Japanese Culture in Buffalo: A Guide for Gaijin

152 students from Japan have made UB their home this year, and though Buffalo's arduous winters and chicken-wing diet don't necessarily match with Eastern culture, there are some places in Buffalo that accommodate those with a taste for Japanese culture.

Adjusting to Buffalo

The Japanese Student Association has nearly 50 members, mostly international students from Japan.

"It's somewhat hard to organize sometimes; Japanese people don't like getting together in groups as much," said Hideki Kambe, a sophomore economics and mathematics major, a fact which JSA Vice President Junya Narahara attributed to Japan's more individualistic culture.

The major differences between Japanese and American Universities?

"American people are very, very active," said Kambe, who attended Yokohama University in Japan. Narahara added, "Universities [in America] are more difficult to graduate, in Japanese universities they don't study like here." Kambe and Narahara both described Japanese schools as more focused on lecturing and discussion than tests and grades. "When you get to college, it gets very lazy," said Kambe.

The JSA is currently planning its Japanese Fest, to be held in February.


Osaka Sushi Bar & Grille, located near South Campus at 3112 Main St., offers Japanese delicacies such as tempura, teriyaki and pan-fried gyoza dumplings. "Good, pretty close to real Japanese, but pretty expensive," says Hideki Kambe, JSA president and a native of Gumma, Japan. For do-it-yourself types (or those with thinner wallets), both Wegmans and Tops stock their international sections with staple foods and the necessary sushi supplies, including nori (seaweed wraps), wasabi (a very strong horseradish) and spiced ginger. Other Japanese restaurants include the Ichi Shogun Restaurant at 7590 Transit Road in Williamsville, and the Jiro Japanese Restaurant at 8316 Main St.

Big Eyes, Weird Hair

Some 70 members of UB Anime share what will soon be over 400 videos of anime, Japanese animation.

"In order to get anime out there, we created a library where people can donate some money, and get access to a wide range of videos," said Brian Rada, treasurer of UB Anime. The club is the fastest-growing among special interest SA clubs, due in part to the Web's influence and the growth of "fan sub clubs," groups of anime fans who acquire anime and work on subtitling it for English-language release.

Rada says anime spans beyond just the intense action shows often seen on cable. "You get a good picture of Japanese culture, we go through drama, action, comedy ... in Japan, their animation is everything we have in live action, they have a wide range of styles."

The club will be holding an all-night anime marathon on Oct. 26 from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. in the Student Union.