Tag Archives: japan

USC Kazan Taiko

By Erika Gomi

We’re so loud that the university doesn’t want us to practice on campus. This is one of the struggles the USC Kazan Taiko group has to face. We are always in need of a space that will allow us to play loudly on our drums. At the beginning of my freshman year, I decided to join the Taiko club on campus (Kazan Taiko). I had never done Taiko before, let alone a musical instrument, so this was to be a completely different type of thing than what I was accustomed.

Photo by Choo Yut Shing on Flickr

Taiko is Japanese drumming. We play on chu-daiko (a type of drum) with our bachi (drum sticks) that we make ourselves on retreat! Usually the main song is played on these drums and then a base beat is kept on the shime-daiko, a smaller drum like a snare drum. Taiko is a very loud instrument and it’s best when you play with lots of energy! We also have special uniforms we wear during performances. In addition to the club T-shirt that has the name of your generation (the year you joined – I’m part of the Wood Rams), you also get tabi (special socks/shoes) and special pants. Then during the performances you get to wear happi (a traditional Japanese coat usually worn at festivals) and hachimaki (a type of headband worn for many occasions).

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A Few Things I learned from Studying Abroad

By Lian Eytinge

When I was a junior at USC, I spent the entire academic year abroad in Tokyo, Japan. I went because I wanted to learn more about what life is like in a different culture, as well as immerse myself in a language other than my own. While abroad, I realized three major ideas that helped me navigate my time in Japan, thus enriching my experiences. Now that I’m back in my home country, I’d like to pass these ideas on to any international student who is studying here at USC and struggling with the language.

1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I know it can be scary to speak in a different language; you don’t want to mess up or look stupid in front of people. I learned that from speaking with lots of different people in Japanese that it is okay to make mistakes and that native speakers won’t think badly of you for messing up. I know it is hard to believe but if you just push forward and try to communicate your idea, you can learn more and develop your speaking skills better than not speaking up at all. To get in the mindset of speaking freely, I thought to myself: “This is a great chance to get to learn a language through talking to native speakers. I won’t get a chance like this for a long time. I have to seize this opportunity!”

2. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. If the native speaker is talking too fast or you cannot understand the words they are saying, try asking them to repeat themselves slowly or ask them to say it in a different way. Native speakers understand you are learning and will try to accommodate you as best they can! After all, it is harder for you to translate what they say and speak your opinion than it is for them as a fluent speaker to repeat their sentence slower. You might initially think it is rude to ask someone to repeat themselves but, I can assure you, it is not. Asking someone to repeat themselves means that you care about what they have to say and that what they are talking about is important for you to fully understand.

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Japanese-American Fusion in L.A.

By Lian Eytinge

Last summer, I had the pleasure of participating in the Global East Asia Program, hosted by the East Asian Area Studies Department. It is a four week summer class that takes place in both USC and a country abroad, in this case: Japan. In this blog post however I want to share with you the great things we did before we went abroad because not only did we get to study and research in Japan, but we also got to learn a lot about Los Angeles and research right in Downtown LA as well!

Photo is author’s own

After our daily lesson on campus, we went to Dodger Stadium and took a tour of the historic ball park. It was a really special thing to do, as they only offer two public tours a day!  On this tour, we learned about the history of the Dodgers team and gained insight on how this traditionally American game opened up and accepted Japanese players. I learned that the Japanese actually share the same reverence to the sport as do Americans and this commonality allowed the two cultures to have a mutual respect for one another. I had never been to Dodger stadium before so this was certainly an eye-opening experience.  With the stadium tour complete, we then went to speak with Mr. Okasaki, a Japanese American who merged his heritage with his passion for baseball, and went to live in Japan to gain experience on a Japanese baseball field. He then returned to the US and earned a job with the Dodgers. He told us about how rewarding it was to sign two Japanese players to the Dodgers as well as shared a couple frustrating stories about the difficulty of translation and cultural difference. It was really inspiring to hear about how he created his own career path by following his heart.

Photo is author’s own

The Japanese American National Museum was next on our list. We went to the Hello Kitty exhibit and saw how a tiny coin purse turned into an international icon for cuteness. Seeing how Japanese Hello Kitty or “Kitty-chan” was able to warm the hearts of people around the world was thought-provoking because it showed how Japanese cute culture is accessible and attractive to people all around the world. Other than the Hello Kitty exhibit, there was the permanent installment of the history of Japanese Americans. This museum is important because it shows what kind of struggles racial minorities face in America and acts as a home to the important history of the  hybrid culture of Asian Americans, specifically Japanese Americans. Going to this museum was such a rewarding experience; you can learn so much from the pieces and the people presented in it. If you’re ever in the Downtown area, you should definitely check out the museum and the area called Little Tokyo that surrounds it!

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