On July 22, the Center for International Students and Scholars (CISS) hosted the 18th NAIST Tea Time for NAIST international and Japanese students. This event, as written in the NAIST Top Global University (TGU) project plan, was held as part of NAIST's mission to maintain a global campus and promote understanding among our growing community.
This Tea Time was held to introduce the Japanese summer tradition of the "Bon" dance and 8 guests from the Kawachi Ondo (dance) Promotion Association of Ikoma visited NAIST to introduce and teach the Kawachi Ondo dance performed in the "Bon" festival. Additionally, Ms. Yayoi Tominaga, a professional kimono dresser who also works at NAIST, volunteered to help interested people in wearing the traditional summer yukata.
The event opened with CISS UEA Robert King giving a brief explanation of the history and meaning of "Bon," and introduced its festival and the corresponding holiday period. Following this the head of the Kawachi Ondo Promotion Association of Ikoma, Mr. Hidekazu Imoto, explained the Kawachi Ondo dance and introduced the association's members. Mr. King served as translator for the event so that all of the participants could understand the explanations that continued throughout the event. Following the explanations, the members formed a circle and demonstrated the dance so that all could see what kind of dance they were going to learn.
After the initial dance was finished, everyone joined the circle standing between the volunteers so that they could watch, learn and dance all at the same time. When the participants, some wearing brightly colored yukata, joined the volunteers in their uniforms it felt like a festive occasion, similar the Bon festival. The participants danced in a circle practicing the dance moves and, when it came time to dance at the end to see how much they had learned, they were able to successfully dance the Kawachi Ondo without imitating the volunteers around them.
After the dance was finished, everyone enjoyed "tokoroten" (a type of jelly cut into noodles) and barley tea, both of which are often had in the summer in Japan. The "tokoroten" was served in a vinegar sauce or with a sweet syrup or a sweet soybean powder, and was enjoyed by all after their long dance experience.
Roughly 30 people from both on and off campus gathered for this Tea Time event, held as students were getting ready for summer. The NAIST community and local community members were able to learn about summer in Japan and enjoy some summer traditions together, with the cooperation of the Kawachi Ondo Promotion Association of Ikoma. NAIST would like to thank them for their help in increasing the understanding of Japanese culture within our community.