Portland State University’s Japanese Student Society has been hosting Japan Night for 10 years now, and this year I’m proud to say that I was invited to perform and speak as one of the headlining artists. With taiko, kendo, dance performances, and a special performance by headlining artist Eden Kai, Japan Night 2018 proved to be a huge success with a variety of acts prepared by PSU students. Read on for more about Japan Night 2018 “Faces of Japan” with beautiful photos taken by Minh Le.

アメリカオレゴン州のポートランド州立大学では、ここ10年毎年Japan Nightという日本の文化を生徒達に広めるためのイベントを開催しています。Japanese Student Societyが手掛けるこのイベントに今年は、ヘッドラインアーティストとゲストスピーカーとしてお招きいただきました!太鼓や剣道、ダンスパフォーマンスやテラスハウスにも出演したシンガーソングライターのEden Kaiにもスペシャルパフォーマンスも楽しむことができ、大成功のイベントとなりました。イベントの詳しい様子など是非ご覧になって下さい。

Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018

A Presentation on Identity for Faces of Japan + Beauty Panel

One of my big tasks for the event was to prepare a presentation for the students and faculty on identity and what it means to be Japanese. Since the theme of this year’s Japan Night was “Faces of Japan,” one of the JSS officers explained that some of the Japanese American students often struggle with identity, and I realized I could truly relate to this subject. Growing up as a half Japanese and half Caucasian in the US, there was always that question in the back of my mind asking, “Who am I?” I was never quite fully American, and never quite fully Japanese and that still stands today. Through my experiences growing up in the US and now living in Japan, I strived to share my thoughts on the matter, along with differences between American and Japanese societies and what I’ve learned about Japan over the years that have helped shape the person that I am today. I also included a mini beauty panel explaining the differences between Japanese and American beauty standards at the end of my presentation.

今回のイベントでは、PSUの生徒や教授のために日本人であることはどういうことかについてプレゼンテーションをしました。今年のJapan Nightのテーマは「Faces of Japan」だったので、JSSのオフィサーに日系人の生徒がアイデンティティーで悩んだりすることを説明してもらい、私も凄く共感出来ました。ハーフ日本人とアメリカ人としてアメリカで生まれ育った私は、「私は何者なんだろう?」とずっと自分に問いかけ、今でも100%アメリカ人でもなく、日本人でもない存在だと思っています。アメリカで、そして日本での経験を通してこのトピックについて私の想いを、更に日本とアメリカの文化と社会の違いなど、それらがどういう風に私を影響したかを話しました。最後に、アメリカと日本の美容に関してのパネルもプレゼンしました。

Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018 Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018

Japan Night 2018 by the Japanese Student Society of Portland State University

And now, about the main event! As mentioned in the introduction, the Japanese Student Society of Portland State University has hosted Japan Night for 10 years now, and this year’s theme was “Faces of Japan.” Through this theme, JSS strived to showcase the many aspects of Japanese culture through various performances such as taiko, kendo, manzai (Japanese stand-up comedy) and dance, as well as Japanese bento boxes for all the guests. Eden Kai, singer-songwriter/guitarist/ukulele player and I as the event’s DJ headlined the event. 4 officers, 2 officers-in-training, and various volunteers put together a huge event that hosted over 300 guests! It was amazing to see so many people that were interested in learning about the Japanese culture, and also for JSS to invest so much time and energy into making this event a huge success.

そして、いよいよメインイベント!初めに説明した通り、ポートランド州立大学のJapanese Student Societyが手掛けるJapan Nightは10年間毎年開催され、今年のテーマは「Faces of Japan」でした。このテーマを通して、JSSは日本のあらゆる伝統や文化を太鼓や剣道、漫才やダンスのパフォーマンスを披露し、更に全てのゲストにお弁当を提供しました。今回のヘッドライナーはテラスハウスに出演したシンガーソングライターのEden Kaiと、DJとしてお招きいただいた私の2人でした。JSSのオフィサー4人とトレーニング中のオフィサー2人、そして数人のボランティアだけで300人以上の規模のイベントを用意したことにとてもびっくりしました!ここまで沢山の人が日本の文化に興味を示してくれたことに嬉しく思ったし、JSSがここまで時間と労働を掛けてこの日のために準備をしたことに感動しました。

Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018Portland State University Japan Night 2018

A huge thank you to the Japanese Student Society of Portland State University for having me at Japan Night 2018 and to all the students and faculty for making the event possible. 

ポートランド州立大学のJapanese Student Society、私をJapan Night 2018にお招きいただいてありがとうございました!本当に感謝しています。

All photos by Minh Le

Portland State University Japan Night 2018

 

19 comments

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Ah, how lovely! What a great theme too! I do not know this struggle for myself (apart that I struggle with identity on other aspects) — I can only imagine how important it is to talk about the different faces of Japan. It seems like such a fun and informative night! You look really happy in these pics too! 😀

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I bet it was so fun!

She Walks Blog

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This is so amazing babe! I would’ve loved to be there to hear you speak about your experience. I love that you are able to talk about your Japanese identity and culture. Now that I am older, I also take pride in where I come from so I love that you were part of this 🙂

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What an absolute honor! I have several friends who attended Portland State so I can confidently say that it is a huge deal you were included in such a prominent manner. It is so important to remain connected to our cultures…so often we lose touch of our roots.

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Oh wow you’re so inspiring! LOVE the topic of the talk as well and of course you’re looking amazing!
Go girl – congrats!

Tatyana x
LAFOTKA

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I’m so proud of you . You can share your experience and your the right person to speak what is the difference. You know and experienced both cultures. Great job Mariko you’re amazing and looking so happy to talk about this theme .
Kisses and hugs from Italy
Xx
Eva
http://www.themermaidfashion.com

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Wow, this looks amazing, and I really love this theme! Being half Japanese myself, I definitely understand the identity struggle. Thanks for sharing this amazing event!

http://roadesque.com

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This must have been awesome! Congratulations! I still want to hear your set one day!
Things have certainly changed over the years. You know, it is crazy, when I was in primary school, I remember there being one girl from Poland and one boy who was from India, but beyond that, there were no other students from other countries or cultures. That is so crazy! Even in high school, I remember there being one Asian girl in my year and one guy from Cambodia. That was it! So so crazy! Most of my friends now are from various Asian countries or Russia or South Africa. I can not at all imagine what it must have felt like to grow up in a school like that as the minority. It genuinely blows my mind that we weren’t more diverse here.
xx Jenelle
http://www.inspiringwit.com

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That’s pretty crazy! I think because I grew up in southern California, there were a lot of minorities which made the schools I went to somewhat diverse despite it being a Caucasian majority, but I’m so happy that almost wherever you go, the crowds are a lot more diverse than they used to be 🙂

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What a cool idea and great opportunity for the students. It would have been really cool to listen to you speak. Thank you for sharing this post and your experience!

~xo Sheree
poshclassymom.com

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What an honor to be a part of this. And it is great that you can share your experiences with others and help them to feel more connected. I had a boyfriends ( in Seattle) though he totally grew up in outside ST Loui and he was half Japanese and half German and the got a lot of flack growing up.

Allie of ALLIENYC
http://www.allienyc.com

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This is so awesome that you got to share your own experience and provide some insight as both a US and Japanese heritage person in the arts. When I was in the Japan, I taught one school known for being one of the very best musical schools in the country, Some of my students were known for their excellence in Taiko. They worked so hard every day for the sake festival performance, and when the entire group (which was literally a third or more of the school) performed, it put you in awe. I get goosebumps still thinking about it. Very powerful.

Thanks for sharing! Brings back memories. 🙂
Xo,
Miki
http://mikialamode.com

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Oh wow, that must have been so fun to work at a music school in Japan! I wish I could play taiko as well, I love watching performances especially at festivals 🙂

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You’re just sooooo dope! This seemed to be incredible! I’m sure he students adored you and loved to hear your story! I know they enjoyed your music and your badass style! Cool Samantha!

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This is such an amazing experience for you to be part of Samantha! Wish I was there to listen to you, perhaps one day in the near future. Thank you for sharing!!!!

xx. Gina

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sounds like a really fun panel babe! you look amazing! I hope to meet you one day soon 🙂 xx

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I was so moved!!
みんな、まりこさんとエデンさんに感激している様子が伝わってきました。
素敵なイベント、お疲れ様でした!!
La Fonduも、楽しみにしてます♡
akiko

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What a huge honor to be the poster girl and one of the main speakers of the Japan Night at Portland State Uni! But then again, who better to represent and answer questions about being half and half than you, my successful and beautiful friend! I can totally relate to not knowing what you really are. Being an expat kid, born in Sweden, grown up in the States, lived in Germany, Finland, Sweden and the UK I’ve never really had a strong identity of belonging somewhere. Or rather I have, but people around me have always thought of me as “that kid from elsewhere” even in my country of birth. At an older age I’ve realized this isn’t something bad though. You, just like me, are world citizens and we should be darn proud of that! 🙂
Glad to be back reading your blog! Thomas xx

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Thank you Thomas!! And yes, I totally agree, I’ve realized that having more than one identity is a blessing because it gives you a bigger perspective on many things. This was really a cool opportunity and I think I learned more about myself in the process 🙂

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