Japanese Culture Workshop: Sample Topics
Here are some examples of workshops Motoko offers on Japanese culture. It is recommended that each teacher chooses one topic for her class ahead of time. Each session starts with a brief discussion on geography, climate, and housing in Japan. Then she moves on to talk about the specific cultural topic, tells a folktale and does an art activity related to the theme. Each workshop requires 45 minutes to an hour.
1. Boys Day and Girls Day (Grades 1-4)
Discussion of how children are celebrated in Japan. Motoko will tell The Princess Who Loved Bugs, a 12th century Japanese tale of a girls courage and creativity. Then students will make small paper carp kites for Boys day. She will leave instructions for Girls Day art activity with the teachers.
2. Sumo Wrestling (Grades 1-4)
Discussion on sports in Japan. Special focus on sumo as a traditional sport that emphasizes respect and self-control. The session includes a sumo story, and a paper sumo game that every child loves!
3. Oni Monster in Japanese Folklore (Grades K-4)
The oni, an ogre, is a familiar figure in Japanese folktales and legends. The session includes an oni story, and explanation for Setsubun, a Japanese childrens ritual for driving away the monster. Each student makes a paper oni mask.
4. Japanese New Years (Grades K-3)
New Years Day is the most important holiday for Japanese people. Motoko will talk about food, clothing, and customs, and tell a folktale that explains the origin of the Asian zodiac system, which uses names of 12 animals for indicating the year. Students will make Lucky Smile Game, a traditional Japanese version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
5. Japanese Writing System (Grades 2-5)
In order to write, children in Japan learn two sets of phonetic alphabets (hiragana and katakana) as well as thousands of Chinese characters. Motoko teaches students to sing Japanese ABC Song, demonstrates writing, and makes everyone a nametag in Japanese. Discussion also includes school life in Japan.
6. Origami Storigami (K-5) --- New!!
Origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding teaches children to focus, develop their dexterity, and increase their understanding of geometry. This workshop includes traditional and contemporary stories related to origami, and age-appropriate hands-on activities.