Thursday, July 23, 2009

Japan Studies

This is the last country we did for earning 3 Brownie Scout badges.

Shayla did not enjoy learning about Japan because we learned that they eat lots of seafood, including sushi and octopus, but she did love the kimonos they wear at festival time.

We started off by locating the Japanese islands on a globe. We learned that Japan is made up of almost 4,000 islands. *Note to self: Maybe this is where I could find my own private island that I always tell the kids I need!

Here is a printable map of Japan for a lapbook. DLTK has a whole section on Japan including a printable flag.

Japan was probably first inhabited by people from Siberia, and later from Korea and China. Japan has elements from each of these cultures, but has developed it's own culture.

Japan: A Portrait of the Country Through its Festivals and Traditions
Country Insights: Japan: City and Village Life

Language Hunt
  • Hello - Konnichiwa

  • Good-bye - Sayonara

  • Thank you - Arigato
Sumo wrestling, baseball, soccer

I was stretching my creativeness here. Since we played baseball and soccer for other countries that we studied, sumo wrestling was it!

We put on our sumo bellies by attaching pillows with our "kimono" wraps. Then we took turns wrestling around. It was hard to do this because we were all laughing so hard!
For more fun, we watched some real sumo matches on you tube.
Stories: Folk or Fairytales
Since my favorite resource (Childcraft Encyclopedia) apparently sprouted feet and ran away, we looked online and found these Japanese folktales.

Brownie Scouts in Japan
Brownie Scouting has been in Japan for 90 years. The Brownie level is similar to ours (grades 1-3 or ages 6-8). There are also the Juniors, Seniors, and Ranger levels. We enjoyed the official Girl Scouting of Japan site and the unofficial site by Japanese Girl Scout Leader, Kimie Yokoi.

Family Life

It used to be common for three generations to live under each roof, but since the 1950's the growth of already crowded cities means that homes are only large enough for parents and children. The home typically has a kitchen, small living room, one bath and two bedrooms (for a two child family).

The Japanese home usually includes the many high tech gadgets including, washing machines, numerous kitchen appliances, tv's, dvd players, and heated toilet seats.

It is still common for families to sit around a kotatsu, or low table in the winter. This table has quilts for covering up and cushions placed on the floor.
Each night the family takes a soak in a square cedar box filled with very hot water. They do not actually bathe in it because the water is shared by all members of the family, so they wash before soaking. Before it became common for homes to be equipped with these tubs, people used to take a community bath at the sento. In some parts, there are still sentos.

Japanese sleep on futon-like mats. In the morning they roll them up and put them away. This allows for the room to be used for something else.

Most children begin attending nursery school at age 4, and are required to attend school between ages six and fifteen.

At age twelve kids enter junior high school. At fifteen , 90% go to senior high for four years. About a third of these kids go to college.

In addition to the normal school subjects, Japanese children are taught music, arts, crafts, games, swimming, and athletics, including martial-arts.

Most believe in the Shinto religion, but there are also many Buddhists.

Fermented soybeans (miso), fresh seafood including sushi and octopus, rice and veggies at almost every meal.

Since none of these meals sounded very appealing, we decided to eat our lunch in Japanese traditional style.
First off, we wore our I made a kotatsu or low table using a cardboard box turned upside down and put a larger tote lid on top. Hey use what you have! We used pillows and a beanbag chair for our seats. And of course we wore our "kimonos." Technically, they were our bathrobes, but it worked!

This is our finished kokeishi doll. It was made using an empty toilet paper tube with a crumpled piece of aluminum foil for the head. Then cover it with paper mache, paint it, and make a kimono out of scrapbook paper.
New Year Festival - end of December to January 3 - Very similar to the Chinese New Year festivities

Setsubun - February 3 or 4 - Includes the ritual of bean throwing to chase out demons

Cherry Blossom Celebrations - Each Spring

The Doll Festival (or Girl's Festival) - March 3 - Parents celebrate their daughters.

Shayla was really interested in this and thinks we should celebrate this holiday, as well. I told her that in our family we celebrate our daughter's every day!

Children's Day (or Boy's Day) - May 5 - Parents celebrate their sons.

Shrine Festivals - Each shrine has it's own festival at some time during the year.

Shichi-Go-San - November 15 - a festival for girls aged 3 and 7 and boys aged 5. These numbers are thought to be so unlucky in the Japanese culture, that they celebrate the children live through these unlucky ages.

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