In recognition of the importance our host nation, Japan, plays in the life of our school, a number of traditional Japanese events are celebrated during the year.
New Year Party
Japanese New Year (oshogatsu) is celebrated toward the end of January and provides an opportunity to welcome the new year while introducing aspects of Japanese culture to students and parents. This includes opportunities for students to participate in traditional new year activities such as mochitsuki (rice cake pounding) and also to interact with local sumo wrestlers who visit the school on the day to participate in mock bouts with students. Even our youngest students enjoy trying to push the sumos outside the ring.
Setsubun, the bean throwing festival, is celebrated on February 2. At KIST, it is enjoyed by students from K1 to K3 who gather to sing a song together in Japanese and learn the special phrases: ‘Oni-wa soto’ (out with demons) and ‘Fuku-wa uchi’ (in with luck). After this, the students receive a visit from some colorful demons! They try to eradicate the demons by performing an action called mamemaki (bean throwing). They throw beans at the demons while repeating the phrase ‘Oni-wa soto’. At the same time, they throw beans inside the room and say ‘Fuku-wa uchi’. Finally, it’s time to eat some of the beans. Traditionally, it is the custom to eat the same number of beans as your age in the hopes of having a longer life.
Hinamatsuri, the Japanese Doll Festival or Girls’ Day, is celebrated on March 3. Beautiful ornamental dolls representing the Japanese Emperor, Empress, court attendants and musicians dressed in traditional clothing worn during the Heian period are displayed on stepped platforms covered with bright red cloth. At KIST, the doll display is set up in the foyer of the West Building toward the end of February for students to enjoy as they pass through this area.