Connecting Through Culture

From the kawaii Hello Kitty character or Pokemon Go craze to the increasingly popular Terrace House series on Netflix, there is much to be loved about Japanese culture.

The good news is that there is a community in SIM that brings together students who share the same fascination and want to immerse themselves in all things Japanese.

8 Apr 2020

5 mins read

By Diyanah Syafiqah

From the kawaii Hello Kitty character or Pokemon Go craze to the increasingly popular Terrace House series on Netflix, there is much to be loved about Japanese culture.

The good news is that there is a community in SIM that brings together students who share the same fascination and want to immerse themselves in all things Japanese.

Poh Tian Yong, President of the Japanese Culture and Gaming Society (JCGS), shares about the exciting club activities and how he has grown alongside the community he has found in SIM.

When did you realise your fascination for the Japanese culture?
It was probably in 2012 when I watched an anime titled Bleach. I was amazed by the sheer amount of hard work that goes into it from the strong voice acting to the realistic human motion and lines of action in the animation. It's such a joy to spot them because they can be easy to miss. Since then, my list of anime shows has grown and my fascination has extended to other aspects of the culture.

This also inspired me to pursue a Diploma in Digital Animation programme at Singapore Polytechnic and the SIM-University of Wollongong Bachelor of Science Computer Science (Game and Mobile Development) programme at present.

I hope that the knowledge I have gained, coupled with my experience in JCGS will help to boost my career prospects in the video game industry.

What led you to joining JCGS?
When I saw that there was a Club which combined my two interests (anime and gaming) at the annual Student Involvement Drive, I immediately jumped at the applications!


JCGS club members cosplaying characters from Persona 5, a popular Japanese role-playing game (left) and popular Anime show, Kimetsu no Yaiba (right), at Anime Festival Asia 2018.

What is a common misconception about the Club?
One of it is that our activities are only centered on anime. That is untrue - our activities also focus on other aspects like Japan's rich traditions and even the cool stuff like video games and cosplay.

We have also gone on interesting trips such as to a local Japanese graveyard with a dedicated tour guide.

Occasionally, we work with the Japanese Association of Singapore to organise workshops for our members and SIM students. Workshops like the Tea Ceremony Appreciation are aimed at increasing the awareness, understanding and appreciation for the culture among all participants.


Experiencing a Japanese Tea Appreciation ceremony organised by Japanese Association of Singapore.

Besides participating in these activities, what can JCGS members look forward to?
Members can develop their skills by being a part of the organising committee in various capacities. For example, they can choose to be marshals during our gaming competitions which gives them a unique experience to view e-sports from a different perspective.

Most importantly, they can look forward to forging meaningful friendships over this niche interest.

Through these opportunities and the space provided for discussions, we hope that they'll find a family and gain valuable experiences and insights along the way.

How have you grown from leading this student club?
Besides picking up time management skills, I've become better at communicating with others, especially with the new members. As the president, it is my responsibility to ensure everyone feels included in order to retain the sense of community amongst them. I learned that doing this spurs them on to give their best for our events as they feel recognised and significant. This is a skill which I will carry to my future workplace.


Every year, we collaborate with Waseda Shibuya Senior School to bring Japanese students around SIM.

Additionally, I've learned to work with different stakeholders involved in event planning. It is important for me to know who to approach to seek approvals for our events and the expectations that they have for the outcomes. This is so that I can cascade the information to other members and incorporate them while planning. This is a skill which I find useful to have at work in the future so that everyone can work together to achieve a common goal.


The team at Natsu Matsuri in 2019!

Could you share about a fond memory that you have of being a part of JCGS?
We went to Natsu Matsuri, an annual Japan Summer Festival organised by Singapore Sports Hub. Many Japanese staying in Singapore also make their way to the Festival as it reminds them of the traditional summer festivals back home.

At the Festival, we rented a Yukata, a casual version of the Kimono and tried Bon Odori, a dance performed in summer time in Japan. It was memorable because we got to experience the joy of a Japanese summer without travelling there!

Intrigued by diverse cultures and keen to learn more? SIM offers our students the opportunity to develop their passion and build meaningful friendships through various Arts & Culture clubs.  Find out more about them here.