The Kazu: A Brief History

If you attended Mildert in the last twenty years, you will probably have hazy memories of ‘The Kazu’. This ritual, started by a Japanese student named Kazuhisa Fukatsu in 1997, involved a can of Coke being thrown, kicked, rolled and/or slapped, then sprayed over the head of a JCR election winner.

What are the origins of the Kazu? What caused this visiting student to start a tradition that spans eight generations of Mildertian? Kazu himself was interviewed by former JCR President Martin Saville in 2015:

The Japanese sketch that inspired the first Kazu

I’m very glad to hear about people still ‘Do a Kazu’. I didn’t know about that. The reason I did ‘Do a Kazu’, before I came back to Japan, I wanted to do something as a memory. I want to tell people, gag of the Japanese comedian. The comedian, he clapped his chest while he say something. He beated his head with steel ashtray. You check the gag [see video].

When I did ‘Do a Kazu’ I couldn’t find ashtray. I hit using coke. I just wanted to tell everybody the guy which I like.

Kazu, interviewed by Martin Saville in 2015
The Kazu, as performed by Kazu. From the 1997 Van Mildert yearbook. Photo credit: James Mackenzie

So that’s that cleared up then. Kazu was imitating a shirtless Japanese comedian who bangs an ashtray on his head, but substituted the ashtray for a can of Coke. A standard Saturday night.

This inaugural Kazu in early 1997 was witnessed by drinkers leaving the bar, creating a buzz around college and prompting both Kazuhisa himself and Kazu copy cats to recreate the event over the following weeks. Crucially, this coincided with the conclusion of a few JCR exec elections. As the election results were declared, the gathered crowd spontaneously erupted in a chant of “Ka-zu! Ka-zu!”. A 50p was found for the Coke machine and Kazuhisa was on hand to guide the winning candidates through his ritual.

Although the Kazu has varied over the years, the core requirements quickly evolved into:

  1. After the results declaration, the winning candidate climbs the foyer staircase and is handed a can of fizzy drink. Although originally performed with Coca Cola, perfectly legitimate Kazus have been completed with Fanta or Cherry Coke. For a period, the college cleaners insisted that Diet Coke be used, as it’s less sticky.
  2. The candidate kicks the can down the staircase towards the baying crowd below, before running down after it.
  3. The candidate tosses the can three times over their head. A split can at this stage is said by some to be a harbinger of bad luck for the candidate’s year in office.
  4. Finally, the can is opened overhead, spraying the candidate and the gathered crowd with sticky sweet soda.

Mildert’s 34th JCR President, James Mackenzie, has the proud claim to be the first to perform the Kazu in March 1997. Since then, the tradition has been performed by 20 other Presidents, and by countless Exec members. A hardcore few have performed the Kazu multiple times by virtue of holding more than one Exec position during their time at Mildert.

For the audience, the Kazu is a uniquely hilarious spectacle, but for the participants it can mean so much more. After a couple of weeks of sticking posters in toilets, knocking on doors and singing weakly-comedic songs to a partisan audience, that high pressure jet of Coke is the climax of a draining election process. In June 2005 I was lucky enough to perform a Kazu and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever feel more proud to be soaked in Coca Cola.

I can report that, as of 2019, the Kazu is still performed, but only now by victorious presidential candidates. It is not clear when or how the tradition fell out of favour with winners of other positions.

For more than a third of Mildert’s history, a strange ritual initiated spontaneously by a Teikyo student in a time before social media or camera phones has become a unifying absurdity between generations of Mildertians.

Mildert News would like to hear from you. Did you ever perform a Kazu? Did you know Kazu himself? Please add your Kazu photos, videos and memories to the Mildert Memories Facebook group.


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