[eDebate] 2003 Japan Tour - A Journal - Part 2
James Edgar Radford Jr.
Mon Jun 16 20:36:42 CDT 2003
Wow. The last couple of days are hard to describe. I'll try.
This was our first day doing debate-related things. We were the
celebrity judges of the semis and finals of what is essentially the
Japanese NDT, the East-West debate championships. And celebrities we
were. We were greeted with an introduction and a rousing applause as we
walked into the room like gladiators. I wore shoulder pads covered in
spikes just to increase the effect. Thats a joke actually, but there
was indeed a great sense of formalism that doesnt exist in American
debate. For instance, before the final round, each debater was expected
to give a little 'intro' that was different from the thank-yous at the
podium. They would say something like 'we are going to do our best, and
get revenge on our opponents.' It reminded me of the text that appears
under the characters in Street Fighter II before and after each fight:
like 'I will truly defeat you now!' And that is a Japanese game, so...
Maybe this is something cultural.
Anyway, the debate was in a very labored-at English and the topic was
whether the central govt should authorize textbooks in Japan. The Neg
went for T. Michelle and I were on the bottom of a 4-3 for the Aff.
Seems most were persuaded by the 'we're reasonable' arg. What can ya
The Japanese students were very excited about debate. After the final
round, we all walked down the street from Dokkyo University for what
was described as a 'drinking party'. And a drinking party it was
indeed. We all went up into a traditional Japanese seating area that we
had to take off our shoes for and put into a little locker. The table
next to us was surrounded by a very loud table of Japanese women, in
their early to mid Twenties I would guess, singing drinking songs that
included clapping and dancing and chugging large glasses of beer and
cocktail. They all wore very hip outfits.
Food kept coming to our table, always accompanied by fresh bottles of
beer, to be poured into small glasses, and bottles of pure-rice sake.
The conversation almost always revolved around questions about debate
theory being asked of us and our attempts to explain. I found it
especially difficult to explain things like 'how do you determine which
is the better standard for topicality?' I had explanations I would give
to a classroom of HS students in the US of course, but they differed,
becuase I could only use a very limited English here. And it became
more and more difficult to explain as the drinks poured and the table
became louder. By nights end, several of the Japanese debaters had
taken off their ties and wrapped them around their foreheads like
headbands. When it was time to leave, one of our very gracious hosts
announced 'May I have everyone's attention please - We are now calling
a close to this 'drinking party' Thank you all for coming' We then took
a very entertaining train ride back to the hotel district and passed
out in bed.
Coming soon: part 3
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