I want to inform you guys that on July 6, 2014, the Foreign Students’ Circle, an association that tries to connect foreign students with Tokyo locals and introduces them to traditional Japanese culture, will organize a cool Kabuki event with a brief introduction on Kabuki, meal and show and the National Kabuki Theatre.
This is a very fun event, I joined last year (see picture). I am a member of the FSC, and I can bring friends.
Since I am intending to sign up, please let me know if some of the GPES/GPEAK students of you want to join as well, so I can reserve a seat for you as well.
To show you that we GPES students are not only studying all the time and also know how to enjoy good times together, let me tell you about the times we shared meals together.
These were held either at one the many delicous restaurants in Tokyo, or at one of the students’ homes.
The first time we went in February 2014 went for lunch to eat traditional Japanese stew at a restaurant in Shibuya’s newest department store “Hikarie” located close to Shibuya station. We all chose either traditional Japanese stew (consiisting of vegetables and some assortments of meat) or fried chicken accompagnied with vegetables and rice. It was not too pricey and the food was more than decent.
The second time, we had dinner together, although this time at the home of one of the students. The dish that was prepared was traditional Indian chicken curry with rice. Although South Asian curry should have a solid degree of spicyness, the curry in question was rather mild to accomodate indvidiual preferences.
Both get-togethers offered many occasions for the GPES students to get to know each other better and to enjoy student life in Tokyo. Through these meals and various other activities genuine understanding was fostered among the entire present GPES student cohort and the GPES students that were only mere acquaintances in the beginning became good friends to me.
The other GPES students are rather involved in Todai circles (サッカル sakkaru) but I guess one would see me as a typical graduate student: a commitment-phobe with regards to university clubs and societies. In my defense, this term has been particularly insane for me and I didn’t manage to make it down to those I was actually interested in. No matter! The Gogatsusai is a brilliant time to catch up on what you’ve been missing out on and experience what those clubs (部活動 bukatsu) and circles have to offer! While you do get chances to take part in booths, like Amelia who was Ms. Moneybags at the Malaysian Student Association booth, I elected to be a normal paying customer and just had a walk around.
Stepping through the famous Red Gate (赤門 Akamon) of Todai’s Hongo campus, you enter a world of intense sensory overload. Loads of students shouting, “Come get some takoyaki/yakisoba/kakigori” and trying all sorts of ways to lure you to their stall (including cross-dressing – not sure how successful this trick is). My star buy of the day was the Okonomiyaki Moffle – a waffle made of mochi with an okonomiyaki topping. Say what?!?!
Not only can you get food lovingly cooked by Todai students, you get to explore the hallowed Hongo halls and learn more about what they do. Apparently you can even participate in a dummy dissection in the medical building! There’re also an assortment of cafés that are differently themed to cater to every possible whim. The centre stage has an amazing location right in front of the iconic Yasuda Auditorium and hosts a huge variety of acts. One of them we stopped to gawk horrifiedly at was a girl group not unlike AKB48, apart from the fact that they were wearing strange gold Power Ranger-esque masks. Indeed, a school festival beyond compare.
The Gogatsusai’s autumn counterpart is called Komabasai and is held in the Komaba campus amidst incredibly beautiful ginkgo trees that are Todai’s symbol. If you missed this one, come along for the next one and maybe I’ll be manning a Moffle booth – you never know!
(Picture source: http://fukutake.iii.u-tokyo.ac.jp/english/facilities_nearby-akamon.html)
On April 30th, my birthday in Gregorian calendar, my GPES fellows gave me a big surprise.
You may wonder why I would be surprised since birthday was expected to be full of surprises. That’s because according to Chinese calendar, my birthday is before April 30th this year and I already spent it.
At noon, I had an appointment with Amelia to have lunch at shokudo. Soon after we sat down, I saw Yue chin and Kim coming over and thought we just bumped into each other luckily. Until they told me Andi was on the way, I didn’t realize it was a surprise from my lovely friends. To be honest, we are all busy every day and I totally didn’t expect it. I felt so warm and happy that moment, and deeply touched by them.
They even brought a beautiful cake and it was my favorite taste, chocolate! The cake was so yummy and I love it very much. What is more, we spent a couple of hours joking, laughing and sharing experience with each other.
It was really a wonderful experience talking with them. Even when I am now writing it down, I can still remember and feel the deep warmth that time. I am glad to join this great GPES family! As long as we are together, it is exciting and funny. I hope you can also feel it!
Picture courtesy of Cheik from MSAJ
Last weekend, I spent the bulk of my time at the University of Tokyo’s Hongo campus for the May Festival(五月祭)!
“What is the May Festival?” I hear you ask.
It is an annual event whereby students and clubs get together and throw a giant fair to gain members and club funding. There are usually two of these per year at Todai. Once at the Hongo campus(Sometime around May), and once at the Komaba campus(Sometime around October).
This year, since I am part of the executive board of the Malaysian Student Association of Todai, I had the pleasure of helping in planning and realizing the Malaysian Student Association’s booth! We sold Cekodok, a favourite teatime snack made of smashed bananas and flour, paired with a rose tea specially imported from Malaysia.
We purchased 36kgs of bananas for this event, and managed to sell out by the afternoon of the second day (Which was good, given the alarming amounts of “We’re going to have to eat these bananas till we graduate” jokes amongst the committee members)! In fact, demand was so great that we had to purchase some bananas from the Singaporean Student Association who were selling banana fritters. How’s that for a great example of the AFTA (Asean Free Trade Agreement)?
All in all, it was a great experience working with fellow Malaysians from other campuses (Some came from as far as Kashiwa!), and putting our business plans into action. While the process was sometimes difficult and I had to ensure that I properly juggled my research work and this event, I am very happy that I took part in this, and got to spread a little piece of Malaysia on campus!