This summer, a luck group of US students didn’t need to board a twelve-hour flight to discover the hidden treasures of the cultures of Asia.  That’s because students from China, Japan and Taiwan to share their culture, improve their English skills and make friends with American and other international students.

In addition to having an Asia Focus Evening Program, members of the GYV Journalism Elective, and the English Language and American Culture Workshop, wrote articles describing various aspects of Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese culture.  Here’s a few of the articles featured in this summer GYV Journal:


Focus: Taiwan and Japan

By: Jenny Bencomo of Louisville, Kentucky; member of GYV Journalism Elective

Jenny Bencomo-Suarez, of Louisville Kentucky

Jenny Bencomo-Suarez, of Louisville Kentucky

Asian Culture overall is extremely diverse and fascinating as you travel to regions across the Asian continent. Taiwan and Japan are both islands of Asia. Haruri, 16, was born and raised in Japan.  She explained several different topics regarding her Japanese culture. First, she said that they say “Konnichiwa” which is hello in Japanese. Next, Haruri said that some common customs are going to the Buddhist temple, and their favorite holiday is New Year’s.  The staple foods in Japan are rice and bread. Educationally speaking, elementary school is 6 years, middle school is 3 years, and high school is 3 years.

After interviewing Haruri, Bonny 18, from Taiwan explained a lot about Taiwanese culture and its strong influence from China. Bonny said that in Taiwan they greet with a wave and say “Ni-hao,” which is hello in Chinese. Bonny later explained that their primary customs are celebrating Chinese New Year’s and going to the Confucian temple. Bonny said that their staple foods are rice and noodles. On educational terms, they spend 6 years in Elementary school, 3 in middle school, and 3 years in high school.

Indigenous Culture in Taiwan

By: Wennie Hsu, of Taipei City, Taiwan; member of English Language and American Culture Elective

Wennie Hsu, from Taipei City, Taiwan

Wennie Hsu, from Taipei City, Taiwan

The Taiya is the biggest indigenous group in Taiwan. It’s in the high mountains of Taiwan. It has it’s own special  language, dance, clothing, and culture. My friend is from the Taiya ethnic group. She invited me to her house last summer vacation. She said that the Taiya men have tattoos on their faces if they are good at hunting. Women have tattoos on their faces too, which shows that they can make beautiful clothing themselves. It is part of their traditional culture.  Summer is their harvest time, and everyone gets together, wearing traditional clothes, to sing and dance in the circle. It is their big holiday of the summer. I love indigenous group culture very much, because they are passionate, kind, and special.


 Events in Japan 

By: Tomoha Sakamoto, of Toyota City, Japan; member of English Language and American Culture Workshop

Tomoha Sakamoto, from Toyota City, Japan

Tomoha Sakamoto, from Toyota City, Japan

There are a lot of events in Japan. The biggest event is New Year’s Day. On New Year’s Eve, families usually gather together at the grandparents’ house and make special food called Osechi for New Year’s Day. While we wait for the new year, we eat good food and watch a special TV show called Kohaku-Uta-Gassen where top singers of the year compete against each other. Most people look forward to watching this TV show! Before January 1st comes, we eat “Toshikoshi-soba” which is a soba noodle. If you eat it, you can spend a good year with good health.

We stay up all night. Before midnight we count down together and sing Joya-no-kane. Joya-no-kane is the 108 peals of the Buddhist Temple bells . These are rung at midnight on New Year’s Eve to announce the passing of the old year and to herald the New Year. It is believed that the 108 peals of the temple represent the 108 worldly passions of human beings. After midnight we say “Akemashite Omede to-gozaimasu. Kotoshimo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!” This means “Happy New Year! I hope you will have a great year!”

Young people text each other “Happy New Year!!” The phone services are affected during this time, delaying messages for thirty minutes to one hour. Some people go to see the first sunrise of the year. Many families go to a temple or a shrine to pray, “I wish this year will be a good year for me.”  One the New Year, we eat Osechi with our families. The adults give us Otoshidama (money). The amount of money increases as you grow older. I’m 18 years old so people give me 3,000 yen  to 10,000 (about $30-100). Children always look forward to this. Most stores close on January 1st -3rd so we have to buy things before then.

If you ever want to celebrate New Year’s Day in Japan, you should come January 1st-4th. I’m sure you’ll like it!

Have you traveled to Asia before?  What countries and what was your favorite memory from your travel?