Students filled SAC Ballroom A for the Japanese Student Organization's Tokyo Cafe. The event featured ANNA CORREA/THE STATESMAN

Students filled SAC Ballroom A for the Japanese Student Organization’s Tokyo Cafe. The event incorporated features of different types of cafes inspired by Japanese culture. ANNA CORREA/THE STATESMAN

The Japanese Student Organization held its annual Tokyo Cafe event, inspired by the traditional Japanese maid cafe, in the Student Activities Center Ballroom A on Wednesday, Feb. 15, to bring awareness to Japanese culture and lifestyles.

This was the third year that JSO held Tokyo Cafe. A maid cafe is a type of cosplay restaurant where waitresses dress in maid costumes to serve the guests. Unlike last year, the organization incorporated features of various types of cafes — including anime cafe, cat cafe and vampire cafe —  into the event, rather than just copying the maid cafe style, to get students to learn more about Japan.

“This kind of event, in particular, is unique to JSO,” Matya Badruddin, a senior biology major and the JSO event coordinator, said. “It is something fun that you cannot really find from other clubs.”

Instead of wearing maid costumes like they did last year, waiters and waitresses had more choices and dressed in different costumes, such as a yukata — a traditional Japanese garment — uniforms, animal costumes and famous anime costumes, to serve the students in attendance. Attendees dressed up as well.

Sometimes people want to transform into their own heroes or someone they want to be, and this event was the perfect opportunity for them to do so. Nicole Ginzburg, a sophomore computer science major, came to the event wearing a green wig. She cosplayed as Hatsune Miku, a virtual character voiced by a singing synthesizer application. This is one of Ginzburg’s favorite characters because she enjoys music in real life.

Japanese anime made Ginzburg interested in learning more about Japanese culture.

“It is very conservative in a good way,” she said, referring to the traditional Japanese way of life. “To me, it is appealing.”

Cosplay, a contraction for “costume play,” is the practice of dressing up as characters from video games, films or books, particularly Japanese manga or anime, according to iFanBoy.

“Cosplay is a very popular culture in Japan,” said Sayaka Uoyama, the student president of JSO and a senior multidisciplinary studies major, who wore a high school girl uniform during the event. “It is kind of like a dream come true that I get to wear something that I admire and something that I won’t be able to wear on a regular basis. It’s a little embarrassing to wear a school uniform. This is a perfect opportunity to do that.”

Each of the 20 tables where students sat represented a different city in Japan — such as Sapporo, Shibuya, Kyoto and Osaka — to show the country’s diversity in both geography and culture. Students were able to talk with their waiters and waitresses about the cultures and customs of those districts.

JSO also provided free homemade Japanese food for students to enjoy, including matcha cookies and dango, a Japanese dumpling. It took the members five hours to prepare all of the food the day before the event, Mai Kashihara, the foreign exchange representative of JSO and a freshman environmental design policy and planning major, said. Students could either take the food themselves or order it from the waiters.

There were several performances throughout the event, including break dancing, singing and Kumdo dancing, a modern Korean martial art derived from Japanese Kendo. The performances were received with hearty rounds of applause from the audience.

The event ended with a dance called “koi dansu,” currently one of the most popular dances in Japan. All the JSO members and volunteers danced together to give thanks to the students who attended Tokyo Cafe.