The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 21, 2024

Photo of Yesterday, 2/13: Japan Day Celebration

Students+gathered+in+the+Commons+to+enjoy+music%2C+snacks+and+learn+how+to+make+onigiri+and+origami.
Laura Gine-Vega
Students gathered in the Commons to enjoy music, snacks and learn how to make onigiri and origami.

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Language Cafe held a Japan Day Celebration during lunch in the commons. Students gathered to enjoy music, snacks and learn how to make onigiri and origami.

Onigiri are Japanese snacks made of steamed rice shaped into a triangle, ball or cylinder, often filled with salmon, pickled plum or soy sauce and wrapped in a nori seaweed sheet. 

Volunteers passed out gloves, rice and seaweed to the students lined up around the table and taught them how to make their own onigiri. Junior Ria Gulati enjoyed learning about Japanese culture through making the dish, she said. 

“It’s important to learn about other cultures because since we live in a sheltered area, we’re sometimes not exposed to that many things,” Gulati said. “It’s good to be exposed to things so we can broaden our perspective on so many issues.”

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Senior Alp Tufan organized the majority of the event with the Japanese teacher Ms. Moorman. Before learning more about Japanese culture, he would only associate it with anime, sushi and the sakura tree, but after studying Japanese for a year by himself, he was able to discover the many beauties of the culture.

“Thanks to [Ms. Moorman], I had many opportunities to learn more about the Japanese culture and promote the Japanese culture to others in and outside of school,” he said. “Our goal in organizing this event every year is to teach Whitman students more about Japanese culture, language and food while having fun.”

Junior Maya Cohen, the president of the Language Cafe, also helped organize and set up the event. She finds the history of onigiri fascinating, as the oldest documented record of the popular snack dates back to nearly 2000 years ago, she said. Initially, a ritual offering in court, onigiri became a military ration before finally becoming a common Japanese snack.  

“It’s really interesting that such a simple food that now is kind of everywhere and in convenience stores in Japan has such a long history,” Cohen said.  

Gualti, like many others, enjoys the events held by the Language Cafe and hopes for more culture lunches in the future. When the Language Cafe organized an Indian event, she was heart-warmed to see other people celebrating her culture, she said, and she hopes that the Japanese felt the same way during Tuesday’s lunch. 

“I felt a more inner connectedness with the community at Whitman,” Gulati said. “I think it also makes other people happy because they’re getting to explore different cultures.”

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Laura Gine-Vega
Laura Gine-Vega, Feature Writer
Grade 11 Why did you join The B&W? I joined the Black and White to connect myself and others to the community and inform people about relevant current events. What is your favorite song? Beauty and a Beat by Justin Bieber

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