A newspaper for ECU faculty and staff
Pieces of Eight



Japan Center Active in Festival

ECU’s Japan Center East took part in Greenville’s International Festival April 8 at the Greenville Town Common. The Japan Center East had a booth including a Bonsai display, shiatsu (Japanese massages) and an abacus (ancient calculator) demonstration.

The center worked with local Japanese companies to set up tents including Japanese food and cultural activities for children, such as writing names in Japanese calligraphy and a toy display.

Giant fish kites, called “Koi Nobori,” were displayed next to the Japanese tents. In Japan, a family with male children will fly Koi Nobori to celebrate Children’s Day in May.

Chikako Massey, Japan Center East director, leads the Bon Dance. Massey was wearing a "Happi Coat," traditional Japanese attire worn during festivals. (Photo by Vicki Luttrell)

The center presented the Bon Dance again this year, offering the public an opportunity to participate by attending a rehearsal held April 5. Hundreds attended the rehearsal to learn about the Japanese festival folk dance, an ancient Japanese custom filled with 500 years of history and fascinating legends of its origin.

Dozens of ECU football players, women’s basketball players, faculty, staff, ECU students and high school students, community leaders and area residents dressed in Japanese clothing and joined the circle of the Japanese festival folk dance. Local Japanese company presidents, executives, employees and families also participated.

Bon is one of Japan’s summer festivals and is a time when people honor and make offerings to their ancestors. During this time, the folk dance known as Bon Odori can be seen across Japanese cities, towns and villages.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to develop a diversity-friendly community while having a great time,” said Chikako Massey, director of ECU’s Japan Center East.

“By having everybody experience, enjoy and be exposed to different cultures, we create a more tolerant community. It was great to see so many people enjoy the evening including ECU athletes, doctors from the School of Medicine, ECU professors, the president of Pitt Community College, a city council member, and our North Carolina state representative. The most important part is that all participants had a wonderful time.”

This page originally appeared in the April 17, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at