Japanese Student Association brings Japanese culture to campus

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The Japanese Students Association (JSA) is the newest organization on campus to join Suffolk’s diverse set of international clubs. Starting this semester, JSA will begin hosting events and working with other clubs at Suffolk and in Boston to promote the Japanese culture and gather all those who are interested in it.

President Nastuki Ota, who was part of the team that founded JSA, said that when she arrived at Suffolk, she was able to meet other Japanese students because they had formed a small community on campus, but there was no official club to represent them. Ota is an exchange student and plans to spend two years at Suffolk.

“There was already a small group of Japanese students that would always hang out in Suffolk,” Ota said. “We’re very few people here, but that’s where it all started. I noticed that there were many cultural associations here at Suffolk, but no Japanese club, so I became interested in helping build a community for us here, as well as a place for other people to learn about the Japanese culture and people.”

Ota worked closely with Taiei Ekawa, treasurer of JSA, to gather all the paperwork needed to make their vision happen.

Secretary Patrick Moriarty, on Asian studies and Asian history major, said that joining JSA has helped him practice the language and become more knowledgeable of the culture.

JSA runs its weekly meetings in both English and Japanese.

“For someone like me, who is not Japanese, I can practice speaking and building my language skills,” Moriarty said. “We have several members who join because they are in the same position as me.” He has been learning Japanese for four years now, and has studied abroad in Japan.

Ota added that she became aware this semester that Suffolk offers a Japanese language course, so JSA can serve as a place where those students can put their learning into practice.

“I think the Japanese culture is very popular in the US,” she said. “And there are already several clubs, like the anime club, that are promoting the culture. But the JSA is a more general organization, so we encourage different types of people to join.”

“We’re not an anime club, but we know that people like that,” Moriarty said. “There are a couple of us who are not Japanese, but we know how much the culture is popular here, so we’re trying to tap into that. We take all this into consideration when planning events to use it to our advantage as we start this new club.”

The e-board members of  JSA have been actively reaching out to other Asian organizations in Suffolk to plan events and gather together. They have also found that students who share a passion for anime or are members of the Video Gamers Army have a high interest in becoming members of JSA, so they are looking to co-host events later on this semester.

Ota said that they plan to have their first event this month. The event will be the showing of the popular Japanese movie “My Neighbor Totoro,” and sushi will be served.

“For people already familiar with Japanese culture, they know that this movie is a kind of classic,” Moriarty said, “so we chose it in hopes of attracting a high amount of people to our first event.”

To join JSA, email Natsuki Ota at [email protected], or find JSA on Facebook.

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