Japanese Culture Exchange Club Holds T-Shirt Fundraiser for Japan Week 

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, Bellevue College’s Japanese Culture Exchange Club held a four-hour-long fundraiser by selling club-designed T-Shirts in front of the C-building. The fundraiser was held to support the club generally and in preparation for its main event, Japan Week, to be held in September. 

The fundraiser, which was held from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on both days, required considerable preparation, according to co-president Isabelle Menezes. “ Me and (co-president Tylar Kester) brainstorm what we can do, what kind of items we can sell, the number of participants…. And after this, we submit a solid plan to the Office of Student Engagement, and then we go out and do it. This takes about a month.” 

The T-shirts, although different in appearance every year, all follow a basic template, which centers around the club’s logo, a Daruma, which is a Japanese good-luck doll shaped like a human head, and which has a stylized male face with one filled-in eye and the other blank. According to the Club’s Advisor, Japanese Professor Emeritus Anne Stewart, this is an important part of the symbolism. “The person who gets the Daruma makes a wish to accomplish something and fills in one of the eyes, and if they achieve that goal, they fill out the other eye to symbolize their accomplishment.” 

At the bottom of the Daruma logo, there is a Kanji, a Japanese written character, which references a certain word. For example, 2017’s Kanji was “Dream,” and 2021’s Kanji was “Trust.” 

Every T-shirt design, in order to save on costs, only contains two to three colors, which, alongside the Kanji, are decided on by club members. These typically have been red and black, although 2022’s design included blue as well. 

When it comes to the back, the shirts typically included a larger, stylized version of the Kanji used in the front, but last year’s design changed this by the depiction of the daruma riding a tsunami wave, a reference to the world-famous art piece “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” 

The club makes most of its money selling items during Japan Week, although these fundraisers tend to raise several hundred dollars on average, according to Professor Stewart.

Speaking of Japan Week, Co-President Kester encourages students to participate if they can. “It’s free for students to come, and we just want people to learn about Japanese culture and have fun.”