村山ゼミ2年生の2名と、村山教授が開講している「Japan Study Ⅲ」を受講している交換留学生の2名の計4名の学生が、子供や家族づれを対象にした「射的」ブースのお手伝いをしました。
California State University, Northledge, CA USA; Andrew Pitts
On November 19, 2017, I and a few other Tokiwa students (one other international student and two Japanese students) went to volunteer at the Mito Merchant Association Thanksgiving Festival, which was held at the Mito Art Museum. We arrived at around 8:10 in the morning and began setting up. Since Jim (the other international student) and I were the only non-Japanese people, it was a little bit intimidating being surrounded by only Japanese without being able to fall back on English. However, we were able to follow their instructions without too much difficulty.
After the initial setup, at 9:30 the Festival began, and so did our real jobs. The four of us were put in charge of running a shooting gallery, where, you get three shots for \100, and if you hit a numbered target, you get a corresponding prize. It made sense that the prizes were toys and snacks because the whole festival seemed to be aimed at young children and their families.
Personally, I had never been to a festival like this, other than the Mito Festival in September, let alone be a part of the staff. Because it was such a small venue, I felt a sort of intimate connection with the visitors of our booth, to the point where whenever they won a prize, I felt as though I had won too. The most surprising moment I had was when a man came around the various booths asking us to give an introduction of the booth; I was selected to give it. However, I was so startled and shocked that it felt like I had lost all knowledge of Japanese, and barely managed to stammer out that I was an international student from America and my Japanese was not a level to give a proper introduction, so it may be better to ask one of the Japanese students.
Throughout the day, there were a variety of performances (mainly dance) that we were able to see. What stuck out most to me was the hero show, which I had seen in manga and anime before, but never live. Many of the performances were surprisingly good for such a small festival, I thought. In America, if there was a festival of this size, the performances would probably not be as polished. Overall, I had a lot of fun working the booth, seeing the performances, and experiencing Japan; so I’m glad I decided to push myself to wake up early on a Sunday morning.
Langara College, Vancouver BC Canada, Jimuel Vistan
On November 19, 2017, Myself, my friend Andrew, and two other Tokiwa University students named Abe and Aizawa volunteered to participate in the Mito Merchant Association’s Thanksgiving Festival held in front of the Mito Art Tower Museum. The event was held to promote and cultivate the local culture, and also provide an opportunity for local businesses in Mito to provide food and entertainment.
During out time there, myself, Andrew, and the two other Tokiwa University students, helped prepare and set up for the day-long event. Upon our arrival, we were asked to help set up the chair seating arrangement for the anticipated crowd to come. Afterwards, we set up our tent and tables for what was going to be a shooting gallery that we were going to manage as shop staffs. All throughout the day, numerous crowds gathered at our booth politely lining up awaiting their turn to play and win small prizes. The task at hand was not too difficult nor physically demanding and was a very enjoyable experience.
The festival was an amazing opportunity for us exchange students to see and experience local culture in Mito. Within the duration of the festival, I was provided with the invaluable experience of interacting and communicating with the locals of Mito in a very unique setting. In addition to interacting with the locals, we were also able to watch many of Mito’s local talent perform in front of large crowds. Many and various performances were performed; there was a children’s brass band performing movie numbers, spectacular hero-fighting and dancing acts, numerous dance performances and many more. The most unexpected event at the festival was the surprising amount of Hawaiian-themed dancing performed by children, youths, and elders. It was surprising and pleasant to see Japanese people openly embrace cultures of countries thousands of kilometers away through their performances of cultural dances.
Overall, the Mito Merchant Association’s Thanksgiving Festival is a very memorable experience for me. I was able to interact with locals and utilize the Japanese I have been learning, watch and enjoy numerous entertaining performances, eat delicious local snacks and foods, and experience Japanese culture from a new perspective. Participating and volunteering for this festival provided me with a practical learning experience of Japanese and also provided a genuine learning experience of one of Japan’s many cultures.