On January 5th, the International Student Affairs Section (ISAS) and CISS hosted the annual Japanese New Year's event for NAIST international and Japanese students, and their families. This event is held to kick off the new year and to deepen the understanding of Japanese culture among international students and their families, while stimulating interactions among students across research fields. This year's event consisted of a traditional Japanese game called fukuwarai often played in the New Year, a chance to try zenzai, a sweet red bean desert, and kakizome, a tradition of bringing in the New Year with calligraphy practice. This year NAIST staff members from the International Student Affairs Section and CISS arranged the event and Ms. Morita, from the Information Device Science Laboratory, served as instructor for the calligraphy.
Robert King (CISS) opened the event with an explanation of fukuwarai and students and children attending took turns putting on an eye mask and trying their best to put the facial parts correctly on the posters in front of them. People around the event enjoyed watching participants second-guessing their senses and creating funny faces, and participants enjoyed the moment they took off their mask and realized how well (or interesting) they were able to arrange the faces. Following the event, children returned to try fukuwarai again, seeing who could make the best faces. Before starting the calligraphy part of the event, everyone tried zenzai to warm themselves up on the cold winter day.
Participants then gathered around Ms. Morita and watched as she wrote some Chinese characters and explained some basics of calligraphy writing. While many students were trying calligraphy for the first time and practiced the basics such stroke order, etc., there were also experienced students who took time the work on their form. Six children also participated and said they enjoyed being able to take their time and practice writing whatever they wanted. At the end of event, the students were given white cardboard to write their masterpieces on and then they stamped their finished works with handmade NAIST stamps. Finally, all participants took a group picture holding their masterpieces.
Around 35 people gathered for this event and both Japanese and international students and some international community children had fun experiencing Japanese culture firsthand. Hope the year of the dragon will be a great one for everyone!