Japan Fest brings cultures together at WSU

Wichita State’s Japan Culture Association’s (JCA) annual Japanese Festival, produced a night filled with games, food and socializing. 

Davis Peck, president of JCA, said the event had several traditional Japanese activities, including Kanji — adopted, logo-graphic Chinese characters used in the modern Japanese writing system — written on pebbles, the strategy game Go, and role-playing games presented by a Wichita State Japanese film class.

Nominated by friends to lead the association, Peck said he has a deep passion for Japan and its rich history.  

“Who would have guessed that a pasty-white American would be the president of JCA,” Peck said. “But I am both honored and excited about this position.”

Peck studied Mandarin, a major language spoken in China and Singapore. He later decided to learn Japanese and aspires to do his post-graduate coursework at Tokyo University in Tokyo, Japan. 

Micah Mohr, vice president of JCA, said that she loves the rich culture and history of Japan. She said she enjoyed the martial arts display the most and hoped that the activities provide insight into Japanese culture. 

Frank Kutilek, JCA event coordinator, and Erina Narita are dating. Kutilek is American and Narita is Japanese. Kutilek says he enjoys the cooking and culture that Narita has brought into their home. 

“I’ve dated American girls, but she is just the best,” Kutilek said. “She is so rich in her culture and lives her life showing it — I guess that’s why I fell for her.”

Attendee Emily Miller Yamanaka left Japan six months ago to return to the Unites States. 

“I went to Japan for my education in art but, instead, I also fell in love with everything around me,” Yamanaka said.

During her time in Japan, she finished her studies in art, and gave birth to her baby girl — Izora. 

Yumi Foster, modern and classical language instructor, said there aren’t many events during the school year that allow students of other nationalities to enjoy the Japanese culture, or for Japanese students to get a sense of home.