The Japanese Student Organization hosted its 14th annual Spring festival, an afternoon dedicated to the celebration of spring and the Japanese new year. Credit: Momina Tashfeen | Lantern Reporter

On Sunday, the Japanese Student Organization hosted its 14th annual Spring Festival, celebrating the departure of winter and the arrival of spring.

The organization’s biggest event of the year brought in families and students to celebrate the Japanese culture with an afternoon of traditional and modern dances, classical Japanese music, band performances and more.

The event consisted of a blend of performances and interactive activities such as kimono fittings, origami, interactive tea ceremonies and Japanese games.

Kanon Kawashima, vice president of JSO, said spring signifies a joyous time in Japanese culture.

“Cherry blossoms are very common in Japan, and they’re usually blooming in April,” Kawashima, a third-year in finance, said. “The bloom of the new year is kind of a representation of why we do a Spring Festival in April.”

This year is the last Heisei Spring, Kyuzo Kelly, the event coordinator and co-host of the afternoon, said. The Heisei era is the name of the current Japanese era that ends April 30. With the new era approaching, people are expecting change, he said.

“As an organization we want to bring in a lot of new stuff too, to reflect that change,” Kelly, a second-year in computer and information science, said.

Kelly, who will be the president of JSO next year, said the organization was founded to preserve and showcase new, old and popular Japanese culture, food, games and music. Other events they host include sushi and movie nights in an attempt to establish a community and friend groups on campus, he said.

“Because [the Spring Festival] is our last and biggest event, it’s a great way for us to tie everything together and also be able to bring the local community together,” Kawashima said. “Everything we did in the past has kind of built up to the Spring Festival.”

At every Spring Festival, proceeds go to a selected cause, Kawashima said, with this year’s supporting survivors of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

“In 2011 there was a massive earthquake in Japan on March 11,” Kelly said. “Many, many people died. It also caused the nuclear reactor disaster and a lot of people were affected by that.”

The donations will fund projects such as restructuring buildings and providing homes and food to communities in need, Kawashima said.

“We change our donations every year; last year it was toward Red Cross,”  Kawashima said. “But this year we wanted to focus more on what we could give back to the Japanese community.”