Yesterday ended after casual conversations with the students from TUINS high school in Japan. Day 19 began with the penultimate class periods, with the beginner classes learning the kanji for days of the week and the advanced class finishing up their final project, which will be presented at the closing ceremony this coming Sunday. After class, both oshibai plays met for rehearsal and then split. One group learned about traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, while the other played with blow-up sumo suits. Once finished, students regrouped for dinner and will be performing karaoke later this evening.
Yesterday ended with the academy continuing contact with TUINS students in small groups. Academy students asked about various cultural issues in Japan, while the Japanese students asked about volunteering opportunities in America. Day 18 started with a field trip to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond. Students took time to explore, take photos, and enjoy the surroundings of nature. After the half-day field trip, students continued work on their oshibai projects, then headed to the gym for an hour.
The end of day 16 included a Skype call with Japanese high school students. The call occurred at 8 pm EST, but in Japan, it was 9 am. Each academy student had the chance to introduce themselves in Japanese, and the Japanese students introduced themselves in both English and Japanese. Today included the typical language classes. In the advanced class, students learned about the world heritage sites in Kyoto, and practiced how to be polite in Japanese hotels. In the beginner class, the lessons focused on particles, and students performed a rap to help them memorize the days of the month. Thirty minutes of the day was devoted to internet time and an hour for gym time. Before dinner, students split into their oshibai play groups and worked on memorization. After dinner, the academy students will have another Skype call with the same students in Japan.
Day 15 began with the beginner classes learning how to speak in the past tense and the advanced class continuing typing and dictation practice. Later in the day, students had gym time where half of the students dressed up in blow-up sumo suits and played an impromptu game of basketball. The other half of the students participated in a tea ceremony led by the director. The other half will be able to enjoy their own tea ceremony later in the week. Students drank traditional green tea, called matcha, as well as a salted sakura tea, also called cherry blossoms. While the tea ceremony was happening, the other group continued work on their oshibai play.
July 7 is Tanabata, the star festival celebrated every year in Japan on this date. Today, our Academy celebrated with Japan by wearing summer yukatas, performing Tanabata dances, and writing their goals and wishes on "tanzaku" papers, and hanging them on our bamboo tree.
After a day of classes, play rehearsal, and han meetings, students got to paint their own "ema." Though these are just interesting souvenirs to us, in Japan these special "prayer boards" are left at shrines with personal requests written on them.
Day twelve ended with a showing of Howl's Moving Castle, a Japanese animated film. Due to thunderstorms throughout the night, students and staff were unable to perform the daily rajio taiso and instead went straight to breakfast. Lessons began with the beginner classes presenting folk songs to their classmates and the advanced class reviewing sentence structures and challenging their pronunciation with Japanese tongue twisters. Once classes ended, oshibai groups met and continued work for an hour before attending a guest lecture from Professor Tim Brown. The presentation covered the topic of religion in Japan. After the lecture, students once again practiced yosakoi before going to dinner and attending another movie night.
Day eleven ended with a viewing of the documentary Life Goes On, a film about the recovery efforts after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Classes were not held due to today being the 4th of July. Students took time to finish their oshibai costumes and props. Tonight, students will watch Howl's Moving Castle.