Japanese Student Association hosts Richmond’s very first Cherry Blossom Festival

Sarah King
News Editor

On Saturday April 4 the Japanese Student Association held events in the Student Commons courtyard to celebrate the cherry blossoms and Japanese culture. The event was sponsored by Shoryuken Ramen and the Traditional Asian Health Center. Photos by Miranda Leung.

The Japanese Student Association at VCU hosted Richmond’s first Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, April 4 in the Student Commons courtyard.

The free event featured Taiko drum and koto performances, martial arts and traditional and modern dances. Students and local Richmond attendees could also use the photo booth or explore the origami, kimono display or ikebana flower arrangement stations. “Curry Fury,” a new Japanese-style curry food truck, was also serving lunch on Main Street.

“I think we’ve done really well with this event,” said Monica Hseih, a political science major and president of the Japanese Student Association.

“This is one of our first big events so it’s kind of surprising that we did this well.”

Hseih said the JSA was only approved by the university in January, but the student organization already has around 200 members.

“We were really interested in a club to expand Japanese culture and tradition since our school didn’t have a Japanese organization but they had Korean and Chinese organizations,” Hseih said.

Christian Empeno, a health and exercise science student and social chair for the JSA, said Saturday’s event took about a month of planning to put together.

“It’s Richmond’s version of the Cherry Blossom Festival that they have in D.C., and we’re planning to expand it even more next year,” Empeno said. “We talked to several people who came here from other companies and organizations who are thinking about collaborating with us.”

Hseih said the JSA received no funding from VCU to host the event, but the Traditional Asian Health Center and Shoryuken Ramen restaurant sponsored the festival.

The JSA at VCU is open to all members who also want to expand their social, academic, and cultural interests.

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