Jefferson hosts Japanese competition for elementary and middle school students


Ynez Neek

A student competing in the K-4 division’s championship round holds up their answer for a toss-up question.

Chabeli Yumang, Staff Writer

Jefferson hosted the third Mid-Atlantic Junior Japan Bowl, a Japanese language and culture competition modeled after the National Japan Bowl for elementary and middle school students in the DC Metro area. Students from five different schools and one Japanese center competed in three separate divisions. The competition occurred on May 10, 2019.

The two elementary divisions for upper and lower grades had a preliminary and final round. However, this year marked the creation of a middle school division where three middle school teams competed in one championship round.

“We found about the middle school division late, so we had to work a lot after school,” Cooper Middle School Junior Japan Bowl team member, seventh-grader Claire Kim said.

Compared to the National Japan Bowl, Junior Japan Bowl is on a smaller scale with not as much of a focus on the language compared to the culture. There was only one preliminary round for the two elementary school divisions and only a championship round for the middle school division.

“Although I’m not super surprised that they didn’t have [the conversation round] in Junior Japan Bowl, I just felt like they were missing a key part of learning Japanese,” Level 2 team member, sophomore Richik Haldar said. “I think a big part of the actual event [the National Japan Bowl] was that you’re testing your knowledge of Japan, which means you should also be testing your knowledge the actual language and being able to communicate.”

Jefferson students taking Japanese, including some Jefferson Japan Bowl team members, volunteered to help run the competition. Japan Bowl team members found Junior Japan Bowl an opportunity to see the competition not as an award-booster, but rather as an event connecting people with Japanese culture.

“In normal Japan Bowl, the fact that it was so massive because so many states encompassed it, all I could do was really compete and hope that [the Jefferson Level 2 team] would win,” Haldar said. “I didn’t get as much of an opportunity to meet more people than I did at Junior Japan Bowl. The vastness of Junior Japan Bowl compared to regular Japan Bowl let me expand my horizons and meet more people and get to know the material.”