On a warm Saturday afternoon on April 16, the Notre Dame Japanese Department held their annual Cherry Blossom Festival, the Sakura Matsuri. All levels of Japanese classes came together to celebrate both Japanese Culture and the coming of spring, with various performances that captured aspects of Japanese pop culture in a way that we can all relate to. There was a dramatic retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Japanese, a few insights into Japanese television shows, a very relatable performance regarding the stresses of studying, and much more.
The Japanese department did an amazing job making the festival warm and welcoming. One did not have to have a deep understanding of Japanese culture, nor even be intimately acquainted with it to enjoy the festivities. The Japanese faculty was very enthusiastic, and the student performers the same. All had a passion for Japanese culture, which they happily shared. The Sakura Matsuri was, in essence, a warm introduction for those unacquainted with Japanese culture, and a familiar embrace for those who were.
The Sakura Matsuri indeed celebrates the blooming of the cherry blossoms and the coming of spring, but here at Notre Dame it takes upon itself something more. It honors the efforts all of the students learning Japanese, and contributes to enrich the culture of our campus. Learning a language is never an easy endeavor, but Professor Yongping Zhu, Chair of the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department of Notre Dame, gave some insight as to why we still take it upon ourselves to do so regardless. In his words, “Learning a language is very difficult, but sometimes, it is also fun.”
The Sakura Matsuri showed us the beauty of a culture, the warmth of spring, and the passion of learning, all blended together as one.