Japanese Culture Visits West End

By Kennedy Edgerton, Staff Writer

The Atlanta University Center is home to many different cultures. Students and faculty from across the African Diaspora come together in cultural harmony. In recent years, however, Eastern Asian culture has found its way to the AUC. 

The AUC Japan Club was founded in 2012 by students who held a collective passion for Japanese culture and language. As the club grew, Dr. Xuexin Liu, an associate Japanese language professor at Spelman College, became the club’s advisor during her 17th year of teaching. Her involvement allowed the club to expand over the years and incorporate new members from across the AUC. 

“Personally speaking, this club holds a vital role in my college experience,” Club President Anetha Evans said. “The AUC Japan Club is a place where other students and I can connect through our shared interests.”

After a year of inactivity due to COVID-19, the club returned for the 2021 school year with a new and evolved mission statement in mind. The group seeks to expand multiculturalism in the black community by bridging the gap between Western and Eastern culture. The club plans to accomplish this by augmenting their study of the Japanese language with a thorough exploration of traditional and modern Japanese culture.

Biweekly club activities succeed in bringing together a community of students who may enjoy Japanese art, food or history. These activities include holiday celebrations, origami workshops, media screenings and trivia games. Each meeting starts with a presentation, followed by a creative workshop, and ends with an anime screening. For information on club activities, follow the AUC Japan Club on Instagram:@aucjapanclub

Several members attended Anime Weekend Atlanta, a four-day anime convention that started on Oct. 28. It was their first off-campus trip representing the club since 2019 and members could not have been more excited about the opportunity. To give away tickets, they held a cosplay competition in which people dressed up like anime or fictional characters for fun.

“I have loved Japanese culture, art and mythology my entire life,” club member Anthony “Wolf” Hunter said. “I’m glad I’m not the only Japan lover in my circle anymore.”

When asked what attracted them to Japanese culture, most club members cited their love for anime, a popular form of Japanese-style computer animation. Sophomore Jaiden Cunningham, who serves as the club’s Morehouse representative, traces his love for Japanese culture back to his favorite black anime show “Afro Samurai.”

“The show was the pinnacle of what the marriage of black and Japanese culture looked like,” Cunningham said. “It put its own spin on something that I was already very much familiar with when I was younger.”

The club’s activities aren’t only intended for entertainment. Club members also seek to provide AUC students with new avenues of escape from academic stress or emotional trauma. 

For any students hoping to join, the AUC Japan Club requires only one thing. Aspiring members must come with open minds and hearts when participating in activities. Most importantly, they must be prepared to explore Japanese culture by trying new and unfamiliar things.