Knoxville Asian Fest, Bearden’s Japanese Club working together to benefit both groups


Emma Kate Poole, Staff Writer

The Japanese Club was visited last week by representatives from Knoxville Asian Fest. This semester is the first semester for the club, making it fairly new to Bearden.

Science teacher Ms. Hana Akimoto and a few of her students who are interested in Japanese culture launched the club. 

“It started because I speak Japanese, and I know there is a lot of interest in Japanese culture,” Ms. Akimoto said. “So, a couple of my students, we were talking in my class and I told them like ‘Hey, why don’t we start a Japanese Club?’”

Japanese Club meets every Thursday after school, and anyone is welcome to join. In the club, they focus on learning about and exploring the richness of Japanese culture. 

“Right now, what we are focusing on is culture and just Japanese-ness,” Ms. Akimoto said. “We are working on using the Japanese alphabet.

“So we will give them certain words and we will look up what those words are in Japanese, and they will write it with the Japanese alphabet.”

Knoxville Asian Festival is an annual festival hosted in World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. It was created to immerse and inform the Knoxville community about Asian culture, arts, and traditions. The festival includes food, music performances, art performances, and other cultural aspects of Asia with activities that engage all ages. 

“Asian Fest was started by an individual because you know the Asian community is not that visible out in general in Knoxville, so she wanted to have people learn about our culture and also know about our businesses and attract people to the businesses,” Ms. Akimoto said. 

Japanese Club is working to help Knoxville Asian Fest, and some students have earned volunteer hours for it. 

“It helps Bearden because it gets us visible to the general public and then it helps [Asian Festival] out because we just have a lot of manpower,” Ms. Akimoto said. “So, they did a lot of work on Asian fest.”

When the representatives from Knoxville Asian Fest visited, they taught the students about and had them participate in a tea ceremony. 

“They talked about the process of having tea, and then some of the kids they had made their own little tea,” Ms. Akimoto said.

Added Japanese Club Co-President Troy Woodard: “I enjoyed the time we spent with the Asian festival representatives. We learned about the tea ceremony like how to make it, how to hold the cup, what you do before and after it’s made, and when is the best time for it to be performed. I truthfully cannot wait to see them again.”

The Knoxville Asian Festival representatives will visit Japanese Club again on Nov. 14. Any students and teachers are welcome to come.