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JSA scares with Japanese-style haunted house

JSA scares with Japanese-style haunted house

By Zach Cihlar

Section: Featured, Features

November 4, 2016

Last year, the Japanese Student Association (JSA) earned an award from the Intercultural Center (ICC) for hosting the year’s best educational program. The event taught ikebana, a Japanese art form of flower arranging.

Building on the success of that event, the club entered the new school year intending to create unique events and try different things.

“I feel like all the cultural clubs are trying to do food events because that attracts people a lot,” said Yuki Dai ‘17, co-president of JSA. “But I feel like we should do something different and try to reach out more with different perspectives and topics.”

One such topic was Japanese horror films. On Saturday, Oct. 29, JSA converted the ICC into a Japanese-style haunted hospital. Students of the club donned hospital robes and copious quantities of blood while roaming through the crowds of willing attendees.

The club occupied the lower floor of the ICC, where a guide led attending students through various rooms featuring different interactive characters, makeshift hospital beds and other props. The characters spoke and roamed through the crowds, at some points directly addressing the attendees.

The event incorporated Japanese aspects through the setting, character dynamics and makeup. “A lot of Japanese horror movies are happening in the setting of a hospital,” explained Dai, who continued by also mentioning the Japanese-style makeup worn by the characters and the “family member relationships” of a few of the characters.

Dai herself played a character in the haunted hospital. She frantically cut through the crowd of frightened students, many of whom turned and ran from the sight of her. “I feel like it’s like acting in a TV show or something,” Dai said of getting in character. “I kept thinking about ‘I am that terrifying. Look at the mirror, I look like that.’”

The club began working on the haunted house more than a month prior to the event. They created a storyline and even incorporated a “riddle” in which the attendees searched for missing body parts and the patients who were missing those body parts. Elaborate and detailed, the setup of the hospital scene and the preparation of the characters took the students two days, said Dai.

The events are largely organized and executed by their E-board, which meets once a week to discuss current programs they are working on, as well as discuss ideas for future events.

The club aims to “be the bridge to publicize the culture,” Dai said. Most people, Dai observed, experience Japanese culture through anime, but the club looks to provide different perspectives of the culture. By holding more diverse events, the club hopes to expand students’ knowledge through informative and dynamic events.

JSA’s next event is Art of Japan. The club hired a demonstrator to teach the audience how to properly perform a Japanese tea ceremony, an art form involving the preparation and presentation of tea. The event will also offer stations for making origami, crafts and incense. It is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17 and is the last fall event the club will host.

This year will be Dai’s last year attending Brandeis and contributing to JSA. “Since I am going to graduate soon, I really wish this year JSA will be very interesting, and it will be a very good memory before I go to work,” she said. The club looks forward to planning even more unique and enriching events to showcase Japanese culture.

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