Fall university festivals are an important tradition in Japan. With COVID-19 cases declining, this year some universities have held live events with a limited number of visitors to carry on the tradition, while others have held the events online, in some cases with programs. elaborate.
In the background looms a sense of crisis not only academically, but also the acquisition of cultural knowledge through student club activities and campus festivals. These events are seen as valuable opportunities to cultivate exchanges, especially for first and second year students who have been deprived of interaction with their peers during the pandemic closure.
âThe show will start soon! Please come see! âEnergetic voices of students could be heard calling on crowds to join them at Keio’s Mita campus in Minato-ku, Tokyo, where the festival began on November 20.
Last year’s event was only virtual, so it was the first time in two years that a live Mita festival has taken place. During the four-day event that ended on November 23, up to 5,000 participants were allowed each day to use a free ticket system. Some foreigners were also allowed, including graduates belonging to participating organizations.
To prevent the spread of the infection, food and drink stalls have been banned and some events have been broadcast online.
21 years old Katsuki shimizu, a third-year Keio University student and chairman of the executive committee, explained how the university’s freshmen and sophomores learned in face-to-face meetings so that they are ready to play a role central in the organization of the campus festival from next year.
âSince ours is a large-scale school festival that attracts 150,000 to 200,000 visitors, it is very important to pass on our management skills,â he said, adding, âThe COVID-19 pandemic has brought us down. isolated from each other, physically and mentally, so we also want to take this opportunity to reconnect.
Dancing Crew JADE, the student dance club, performed street and jazz dances on the stage of a large classroom. âA lot of classes are still held online, so I’m glad all the members came,â said Mei Hotta, an 18-year-old freshman. âThe dancers are encouraged by the audience response so I’m thankful that we were able to perform in front of a live audience,â she said with a smile.
Shukutoku University also held its Fall Festival on November 13-14 at its Tokyo campus in Itabashi. But here, only faculty members and students were allowed to attend the activities.
âThere were no outside visitors so it was darker compared to a normal year,â said a representative from the University Affairs office. “But it was still significant given that most of our classes were online and there were fewer opportunities for students to interact.”
The Komaba festival was held from November 21 to 23 at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo in Meguro-ku, but everything was virtual.
Initially, they had planned a hybrid type combining face-to-face and online events, but eventually went with the second solution because the pandemic situation in Japan had not improved by the August deadline to plan. the event.
Online events are arguably less exciting than face-to-face events where you can feel the vibrant festival atmosphere on campus. So why did they decide to go ahead?
âWe wanted to carry on the tradition of the school’s fall festival to help compensate for how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the academic and cultural activities of our students,â explained the festival’s executive committee member. Komaba.
The participating organizations have set up a dedicated festival planning site, showcasing various popular projects. One was the âUniversity of Tokyo LEGO Club,â which explained its activities in a YouTube video.
“We had to do away with the fake bars, where most interactions usually take place, so we focused our PR activities on the members’ SNS site, highlighting the uniqueness of the online event,” the member added. of the committee.
Aim for next year
On the other hand, there was a big disappointment in some universities which had to cancel the festival programs for the second year in a row.
Kyoto Sangyo University in Kyoto City, for example, has canceled its âKamiyama Festival,â which was scheduled to start on October 30.
âThis is the second year in a row that we have no chance to promote student activities or pass on the culture and management techniques of the campus festival,â said one of its organizers. âWe are concerned about continuing this tradition. ”
Since their festival usually takes place earlier than other universities, they haven’t even had time to host an event online. “This may lead to the loss of the vitality of our campus,” added the organizer, “so we will do everything possible to hold it next year.”
(Read the Sankei Shimbun report in Japanese at this link.)
Author: Daisuke Nagai