Japan Week began in 2008 as a collective effort between the UVA Japanese Language program and UVA student organizations, high school Japanese programs, and Japanese related groups in the Charlottesville community. It aimed to promote Japanese language and culture to the Charlottesville community, as well as to people living in the surrounding areas. The UVA Japanese program served as the leader of this outreach initiative. The collaboration and articulation of all the aforementioned groups was the key to Japan Week’s success.
This year, we had another successful festival with the 3 core events, Japan Trivia Night by the Japanese floor of Shea House, Japan Day by the Japan Club, and the Spring Festival at the Charlottesville Fashion Square Mall boasting the same number of booths and performances as last year. Besides the main events, we were able to organize another event that was a tribute to those 19,000 lives that vanished in the North East Japan Tsunami disaster on March 11, 2011. We invited two guest speakers from the community to share their experience volunteering in the area in Miyagi and Iwate prefecture where the Tsunami hit. Mrs. Hiroko Tsukiji has visited the area 11 times in the last two years and worked independently with "Project Next", a non-profit organization: http://www.project-next.com/. Mr. Clifford May from the UVA ROTC had been sent to the same area through the U.S. military operation "Tomodachi (friends)" right after the Tsunami hit. He lived in Japan prior to the disaster and was sent to the area as one of the pilots for the operation. Their personal stories were very heart warming and about 30 students who came to Shea house for the event enjoyed the talk and the pictures shown. The students were also able to interact with the guest speakers at the reception afterwards. In addition to this event, it is noteworthy that two Japan related lectures were held during the same week: the student-faculty conversation with Gus Heldt on classical Japanese organized by the Japan Club Academic chair and also a talk on ‘The Art and Politics of Samurai Sociability” by Morgan Pitelka from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The UVA Japanese Program would like to thank its co-sponsors, the East Asia Center and the Asia Institute. Thanks also to the Mead Endowment for providing the funds necessary to hold the tribute for the tsunami victims.