M.C. Perry Elementary School hosts Japanese Cultural Exchange Program
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Matthew C. Perry Elementary School aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, hosted their 5th annual Japanese Cultural Exchange Program at the school’s gymnasium, Feb. 11, 2015.
The program began with a hospitality speech from Larry Wall, the psychologist for M.C. Perry Elementary and coordinator of the event, and words of gratitude from Hisashi Sutou, principal of Shinnanyo High School.
“I would like to thank all of you for inviting us here today,” said Sutou. “During your stay in Japan, I hope you learn a lot of wonderful aspects about the Japanese culture and help strengthen the bridge of friendship between Japan and the United States of America.”
The Shinnanyo High School Brass Band then readied their instruments to perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” for the crowd of foreign staff and students of M.C. Perry.
Dressed in their karate-gi, a Japanese karate training uniform, Shunan International Children’s Club took the stage to demonstrate a sequence of traditional martial arts techniques.
“It’s great for our students to see the Japanese culture and to explore the other side,” said Wall. “We’ve had very positive results and the kids are always excited. They’ll say something like ‘oh! Look at that cool martial arts thing or the beautiful dance.’”
The children cheered in excitement for the Shunan Children’s Choir and Shinnanyo High School Brass Band’s next performance where they sang popular songs from the Disney movie “Frozen” in Japanese.
“Music is the main base of this program and unites all of us,” said Wall. “We are all singing the same language when it comes to music and the Japanese always put on a great performance.”
The traditional Japanese songs set the scene for the following classical Japanese dance, Nihon-Buyo.
Shunan children from age 4-13, dressed in colorful kimonos, performed Nihon-Buyo, a dance that first appeared in the 1600s.
“We have been coordinating this exchange for the last five years and it’s an awesome opportunity for the Japanese students to come to the base and see the American students,” said Dr. Suzanne Landrum, principal of M.C. Perry Elementary. “We like to get them into the classroom to show them what we do in an American school … this is wonderful for our children to learn from their culture and to share this connection with the Japanese.”
The talented Shunan group invited M.C. Perry Elementary School to their Hinamatsuri Festival for the last four years in return for the school’s generosity.
This ongoing cultural exchange illustrates the greater part of the Japanese-American relationship and solidifies ties with our host nation.