Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Quick Look at Japan - World Heritage Badge

This lesson was designed for a one hour American Heritage Girls lesson on Japan as part of the World Heritage badge, but I have included some additional activities and recipes you can use to create a day or week long Unit Study on Japan.  We had several families that have lived in Japan that were able to share many some of the customs, language, and experiences with us!  One of our leaders was even able to dress up in the traditional Japanese garment, a kimono.

This lesson started at the door, with a quick instruction on Japanese etiquette.  The girls were told to remove their shoes and were taught basic informal and formal greetings.  In Japan greetings have great importance and should include a bow.  The degree of the bow represents respect.  A 15 degree bow is more of an informal bow, while a 45 degree bow signifies deep gratitude, respect, or a formal apology.  Men bow with their hands at their side and woman bow with their hands together on their thighs with their fingers touching.

Some common ways to greet each other:
Ohoy├│ guzaimasu: Good Morning
Konnichiwa: Hi, Good Afternoon
Konbanwa: Good Evening

Here is a video on Japanese greetings;

Japan is an island country off mainland Asia that is about the same size as the state of California and shaped like a seahorse.  The four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

ACTIVITY: On a world map, mark and label the location of Japan. Can you see that it looks like a seahorse?

Japan has four distinct seasons, but does suffer from natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanoes.  Because the country stretches for 3,000 kilometers from north to south, in months like March you could be skiing in northern Japan and sunbathing in southern Japan!  

Spring is the time for new beginnings in Japan and they celebrate Sakura-Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival).  When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom many people like to make special trips to the parks to picnic and sing their favorite songs.  All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More by Willamarie Moore was a favorite resource of mine while planning this heritage study.  In it there is the traditional Cherry Blossoms Song that you can sing as a group.  Make a Cherry Blossom painting using the base of a water bottle or your fingertips.

A haiku is a 17 syllable poem that references the season.  The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the third line has 5 syllables.  Somewhere in your poem you must include a seasonal word, or "kigo".  We wrote our Haiku about Cherry Blossoms and painting our picture below it!

June is considered Tsuyu, the Rainy Season.  Make teru-teru bozu dolls; a traditional doll tissue paper doll hung in the windows by farmers (and also children) to wish the sun to return.  They are quick and easy to make.  You need two pieces of tissue paper and a piece of string.  Simply crumple up one piece of tissue paper in a ball.  Place the ball of tissue paper in the center of your second piece of tissue paper.  Gather and pinch around the ball, tie off with a string or ribbon, and decorate the face if you desire.

Many of the arts we love today originated in Japan, including Origami and Calligraphy.  Shodo means "Way of the Brush" or calligraphy.  One may study shodo for years and years to master it.  Calligraphers need to know how to hold the brush, correctly release the ink, balance the strokes and arrange the character, and be very clear and precise.  Using a book, such as Calligraphy for Kids practice writing the alphabet and/or your Haiku in Calligraphy.  

The Japanese word for Origami is the compounding of two smaller Japanese words: "ori" meaning to fold, and "kami" meaning paper.  It began in the 6th century when Buddhist monks carried paper to Japan.  Because of the high price of paper, the first Japanese origami was used for religious ceremonies only.  We made the origami frog (which symbolizes good luck in Japan) from the book All About Japan and our daughter played the song "Frogs for Good Luck" on the piano.  What can you make out of paper? American Heritage Girls may choose to further explore the art of origami for their Creative Crafts Badge.  

While we were visiting Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville, AR, we attended a Fish Prints program.  Fish printing is another Japanese art that was designed as a way for fisherman to have a record of the type and size of fish they caught.  By rolling ink over a fish and then pressing a piece of paper on it, you create a life-size impression of the fish. We used molds of fish and paint instead of ink for our craft, but it was fun and we love our fishy artwork.  For more information read The Fin Art of Science.

Speaking of fish, being that Japan is an island country, fish and seafood are very common main dishes. They also eat a lot of rice.  In fact, it used to be that so much rice was eaten at every meal that "Gohan" means "meal" and "cooked rice" in Japanese.  After saying "Itadakimasu" (which is a way of saying thank you for this food) and learning a few table manners, the girls all tried their hands at using chopsticks to eat sticky rice.

I'd love for you to share your photos with us on Instagram!  Tag #pocketfuloftreasures and follow me @pocketful_of_treasures.  

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