Friday, October 12, 2012

Spreading some Aloha to the AIU Festival

After many weeks of preparing for the Akita International University (AIU) Festival, the AIU Festival is finally over. The festival lasted for two days and because of the festival, the students had a five day weekend.   I was apart of the Hawaii booth so I was busy preparing for the Festival on Friday and Saturday with seven other international students and spent Sunday and Monday managing the booth from 9am to 4:30pm. The Hawaii booth consisted of five people from Hawaii and three other students that were not from Hawaii but were interested in helping us manage our booth.

My friend with oil paints on his hands after preparing for the festival
For our booth we had hula lessons, an ukulele performance, origami workshop, an Okinawan dance performance, shamisen performance, Kikaida marathon, a video about Japanese Americans, Hawaiian trivia, sign painting, a lei making workshop, and a list of pidgin words with Japanese translations. Originally we wanted to sell spam musubi and poke (raw tuna fish cubes with seaweed), but decided against that because the food committee had a lot of regulations, and we realized that the cost to make the food would be too expensive.

Although we knew it would not be easy to represent Hawaii, we wanted to do it anyway because we wanted to educate the Japanese population about the Japanese Americans in Hawaii and show that Hawaii is more than just some tourist destination for people to go. We wanted to tell the Japanese people about Hawaii's aloha spirit and make this experience special for them because we are people from Hawaii that are actually representing Hawaii.

My friend from UHM posing with my Taiwanese friend. He looks like a ghost
All of the Hawaiian islands

Our list of Hawaiian pidgin with Japanese translations
Our list of Hawaiian trivia with questions only people from Hawaii  can  answer completely
Kikaida coloring pages and homemade leis
A group of origami lotuses my friends and I made for the Hawaii booth

We choose to have a Kikaida marathon because according to my friend from Hawaii who has stayed year for at least a year, none of the Japanese people he talked to seem to know about Kikaida and he felt that it would be a good way to show how special Japan's and Hawaii's relationship is.

Despite having a lot of events and Hawaii being a popular tourist destination for the Japanese population, the first few hours were very slow for the Hawaii booth on Sunday. None of our pictures came out in color, and we did not have an audience for our ukulele performance on Sunday that we had to cancel it. In addition lei making started at 12pm and face painting started at 1:30pm. One of the students had even passed out signs and spoke to the Japanese people in Japanese just to get people to come to our booth.

A lot of the students had helped decorate the campus for the Festival. This year's them was Jukebox.

Menu for the French Club's booth
Pictures from the French club
A photoshopped picture of a girl that is trying to be Napoleon
It was not until after 12pm that we realized our biggest problem was not our events but our marketing plan. Apparently we found out that our booth was not even in the festival guidebook, so from 12pm to 1pm we spent some time making a sign and wearing lei's as advertisement in order to get people to come to the booth.

Our plan managed to work and people slowly started to come to the Hawaii booth. Surprisingly one of the main attractions was Kikaida because a lot of the Japanese people grew up with Kikaida when they were little, and they wanted to introduce Kikaida to their children. It seemed that the actor from Kikaida was from Akita. People were happy to make leis or get their face painted and they learned a few things about Hawaii. Due to the large amount of people we were able to have an audience for our Shamisen performance and declared the day a success.
The Okinawan Shamisen performance
Our sign that had gotten people to come to our booth finally
My Taiwanese really likes the leis made at the Hawaii booth

Our first day was a success
Pictures of the campus Bonfire on Tuesday night

The next day we started the booth at 11:30am because all of us wanted to explore the festival, and we knew that it would get busy around lunch time. We were very busy the day before so we were not able to try the food from the different booths or see any of the performances from the students.
Some of the MC's for the festival

This is the Cafeteria
One of the many food booths at the AIU Fesitval

All of the Japanese students in the English speaking program are required to do a  dance performance

These guys dance is based off of Michael Jackson's performance

A lot of the dances had the students speaking in English. Few of the performances were in Japanese

Team Taiwan. They won third place for the most popular food booth at AIU Festival
Some of the Taiwanese girls wore kimono's for the festival
Compared to Sunday, Monday was a lot busier and people were so excited to come to the Hawaii booth that they would even open the door themselves to see if we were ready to open. Monday was so successful that  we were able to have an ukulele performance and the room was packed with people during the hula lessons and okinawan dance performance.
This is how popular our booth had became
A dance performance mixed of hula and Okinawan dance

After a successful dance performance my friend is ready to begin hula lessons

The Festival ended on Monday night and included a performance by the school's Kanto team and a video that shows the highlights for the year. I missed most of the closing ceremony because I was really tired managing the Hawaii booth on Monday and Tuesday, but thankfully my friend gave me some of her pictures so I will put some of her pictures on this blog.

Lanterns from AIU's Kanto team
One of the Kanto member's is holding up this lantern by himself

My friend from UHM is also a member of the school Kanto team.  He is with the shakka

Some of the bands that performed before the closing ceremony

The winning team for the school's dance performing contest