By Christina Armeni

Students had the opportunity to enjoy live music performed by their peers, traditional Japanese food and nonstop entertainment at the first ever Momiji Cafe November 21. 

The University of Maryland Japanese American Student Association (JASA) put on a Japanese-style cafe in the Stamp Student Union for anyone looking for a cultural experience right on campus. The event was advertised as an escape from exams and school work.

“It’s definitely a really nice break and you’re enjoying some cultural foods and traditional dances,” senior Jessica Tsai said. Tsai, an information science major, sang in the finale with the Gamer Symphony Orchestra, a student-run group dedicated to performing arrangements of video game music.

The evening had a lineup of more than 15 acts, including everything from K-pop dances to student original songs on the Dizi, a type of Chinese flute. 

“It’s a way for students to show off their talents and have a good time,” said Hannah Chang, a senior Japanese and math double major. 

Red bean buns, custard buns and egg tarts were a few of the treats offered to guests. The crowd favorite was Tsukimi Dango,  a kind of rice dumpling. 

Freshman Hannah Schaadt said the desserts were her favorite snack options.

“The food was amazing,” said Schaadt, a criminology and criminal justice major who joined JASA this semester. She wasn’t on the planning committee for the event and didn’t know what to expect from the event. She was able to enjoy the event and connect with other JASA members. 

“It provides a community for anybody who is interested in Japanese culture,” Schaadt said,  adding that it was a great opportunity to expose others to a different culture than their own.

More than one hundred students showed up for the event that lasted three hours. Students socialized at tables set up and walked around looking at the food while listening to the music.

“It’s just a fun college memory,” Chang said.

The hosts for the evening were JASA members Rachel Samelson and Yo Sasatomi, who said at the beginning of the event that they hoped it could become an annual thing. Sasatomi, a junior operations management & business analytics major, was elected this semester as JASA’s co-president but has been a member since his freshman year. Samelson is JASA’s senior adviser and studies art history and asian art.

Sasatomi opened the night with the welcome statement “sit back, relax and enjoy your stay at Momiji Cafe.”

Featured Photo Credit: Christina Armeni/Bloc Reporter.

Christina Armeni is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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