Coming up on Saturday April 24, 12 to 5 p.m. at PCC Northwest Campus (7600 N. Shannon Rd.), the 8th Annual Japanese Speech Contest for students enrolled in a Japanese language class. Besides the speech competition, this free event features Japanese cultural exhibitions, taiko performances, prizes, refreshments. The public is invited to participate, to learn more about Japanese language and culture.
Any student may enter as long as that student is currently enrolled in a Japanese class in Tucson. He or she can be taking Japanese in a public or private school, and the school can be elementary, secondary, high school, college, university.
According to Yosei Sugawara, Lead Instructor at PCC Languages Dept. & Chair of the event: “The speeches are written by the students on whatever topic they’d like. Again, we’ve had a wide range. There are personal reminiscences, political essays, jokes, songs … once, even a small puppet show. We don’t screen for content although the committee sees both the Japanese and English versions before the actual event. We provide the English version of each student’s speech to the audience so that friends, families and members of the general public know what’s being said.”
Sponsored by the Southern Arizona Assn. for Japanese Education (SAAJE), this event started in April, 2003 and has grown over the years, to include demonstrations of kendo, judo, karate, aikido, ninjutsu, and iaido by Tucson’s martial arts schools.
The exhibitions will again include Japanese swords, origami by the Tucson Origami Club, ikebana flower arranging, calligraphy, anime, and Urasenke Chado (Japanese tea ceremony) demonstrations, as well as participation by the Southern Arizona Koi Association, and the Tucson Go Club. My brothers and I used to play go with my maternal grandmother. Go is a Japanese board game of strategy played with black and white circular stones (playing pieces).
Tucson based Odaiko Sonora will be performing taiko drumming again for their 8th year.
Judges for the contest in the past have been provided by IBM Japan, the University of Arizona, PCC, The Rotary Club, and Japan-America Society of Tucson, with prizes from local businesses and other sponsors such as the Japanese Consulate General in Los Angeles. This year’s judges are Tom Johnston (Sahuarita Police Dept./FBI & Homeland Security), Fukumi Zapp (Japanese Association of Tucson), Takahiro Masumura (Canon U.S.A.), Hiroko Coates (MUSO/Hiro International).
“SAAJE, a non profit association, was founded to promote Japanese language and culture education in Southern Arizona. Its membership includes professionals and nonprofessionals involved in the Japanese language, in traditional Japanese arts and crafts, and in historical and contemporary Japanese culture.” (from their website)
Being 3rd generation Japanese American, this event sounds attractive to me to re-connect with my culture, though I don’t speak Japanese. I grew up playing go and hanafuda (Japanese flower cards) in Hawaii, and also doing some ikebana, owning koi fish, and drinking green tea. I haven’t had the opportunity to attend in the past, but am looking forward to it this year.
This cultural event is open to all of you interested in “All Things Japanese”, especially the beautiful sounding language.
4/25 article on update of contest winners: http://tucsoncitizen.com/community/2010/04/25/winners-of-the-8th-annual-japanese-speech-contest/