Student Voice

2017.11.13Student Voice

Connecting Past and Present: Chris Yannuzzi, State University of New York, Oswego, USA

Chris Yannuzzi from State University of New York Oswego at Akita International University kendo club practice

Chris, right, practicing with AIU's Kendo Club in Suda Hall

Coming to Japan has always been the top priority on my bucket list. There were so many things to experience here that I simply can’t do in my part of America. I made an extensive list of places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do over here before coming, and am trying to do all of them before I go home in December.

Getting Immersed in Kendo Club

One of the requirements of my study abroad scholarship was to join an intercultural club. The first club that came to my mind was something I have wanted to try for years – Kendo! I have always had an interest in Kendo and samurai in general. So, when AIU had the activity fair, I made sure to find Kendo and join.

Kendo club had its first meeting on Tuesday, September 5th. We went over basic movements and attacks. Each meeting we try to progress even further, learning new forms and practicing what we have already learned.

When I was in 9th grade, my high school had everyone do Tae Kwon Do for about a year and a half. Everyone could reach yellow tip by the end of that year and a half. To me, doing Kendo at AIU feels very similar to taking Tae Kwon Do in high school. It requires a lot of stamina and dedication, but doing with your friends makes it so much better.

Stronger Connections

Joining AIU’s Kendo club has been one of the best opportunities for me. It has allowed me to make amazing friends, like my friends Runa, Kaito, and Kanako.

Club and Classroom

Joining Kendo has even had an influence on my schoolwork. I’m taking Prof. Sean O’Reilly’s Anime and Contemporary Visual Media class here at AIU. In that class, our final project allows students to create their own manga, so long as it is either an homage/parody of a pre-existing manga, or our own creation.

My time in Kendo has inspired me to craft my manga around the series “Vagabond”, created by Takehiko Inoue. “Vagabond” tells the story of Miyamoto Musashi as he becomes the samurai legend that Japan knows him as. My intent is to depict the story of legendary female samurai Tomoe Gozen, giving her more time in the spotlight.

Bridging Past and Present

I love that I get a chance to create my own manga here at AIU through that class, and I love that I can make it about Kendo. I get to bridge the gap between Japan’s past and present.

Doing Kendo has allowed me a chance to experience a unique part of Japan’s past. Making manga allows me to connect that experience with Japan’s present. And while I may only be able to do Kendo for the one semester that I am here, I truly treasure my time with the Kendo club here at AIU. I will never forget the experience of doing it with my friends. It has definitely contributed to this being the best year of my life thus far.