After our AM language classes, we attended a lecture from Dr. Brown of Randolph-Macon College on Japanese Religion and History. The lecture encompassed the difference between stereotypical Japanese religion and the actual practices of Buddhism, Shintoism, and more. Religion in Japan is more abstract and nuanced, as opposed to a solid sense of religious belonging in the U.S. Special thanks to Dr. Brown for the lecture and for bringing samples of the Japanese cultural item, the ema, for us to view. ありがとうございます!
In the evening we completed our final step of our woodblock project: printing. It was great to see our creations take their final form, and the whole process has been a joy for everyone. Thank you to Emily-先輩 (senpai) for your instructions, time, and help!
After regular language classes, we listened to a lecture by Dr. David Clark about the history of math in Japan and its evolution in tandem with religious and cultural practices. At first, many students did not jump at the idea of hearing a 90-minute lecture on math, but afterwards, their opinions were certainly changed. We got a taste of the unique beauty of traditional algebra and geometry problems in the Edo Period and beyond. Some students even took up the challenge of solving one of these problems, famous for its difficulty. Thank you, Dr. Clark!
After more oshibai practice and dinner (of course), we had the privilege of watching a live, life-changing performance of Japanese cultural music, played on the koto, a traditional string instrument often called the “Japanese harp.” Not only were we able to listen to performances of many different beautiful pieces, but many students were even able to try playing the koto themselves! We’d like to send a big thank you to Miki and Miki for their amazing playing, and for taking the time to share their talents and another aspects of Japanese culture with us. Also, make sure to check out and support their YouTube channel, if you’d like!
See you soon! じゃあ、また！
Today is an important day in American history, as well as a fun day here at the Academy!
We had classes off today, and spent an enjoyable day learning about Japan and Japanese culture. To start the day, we prepped for our evening performance this Saturday, おしばい (Oshibai)
After practice, we had a “taste of Japan” where we tried many common Japanese foods that the average American tongue is probably not used to, like umeboshi, nori, and naruto, which are pickled plums, a type of seaweed, and a fish cake. We had a great time trying foods new to many of us, and this experience gave us a better understanding of the flavors of Japan.
After more Oshibai prep, we had a second round of karaoke. Along with many fun sing-along sessions, we also tried our Just Dance songs as a class. All of these musical activities allowed us to share our taste in music with each other, though after the cheering from Undokai, most of our voices were a bit strained.
While we weren’t able to enjoy fireworks in person this year, we were able to view past fireworks shows in Japan. These shows are beautiful, complete with large shells, various colors, and songs that time with the explosions.
To end the day, we had a social mixer event with the Latin Language Academy. We were able to get to know them a little better, which has been difficult with our opposing busy schedules.
We’re super excited to see everyone again at our Oshibai performance!
Today is the we’ve been planning for…うんどうかい! (undokai) Undokai is a sports event similar to an American Field day. The class was split into two teams, あか(aka), or red, and しろ (shiro) or white for the colors of the Japanese flag. The groups competed in various games, along with competitive cheering to achieve the victory. Our Undokai consisted of 5 games ー a relay race, soccer, bean bag toss, tug of war and sumo soccer! Throughout each game we utilized some posters and chants in order to show the most team spirit. Everyone here at the Academy had a great time competing and cheering as teams, and everyone would agree that we earned a lot of respect for eachother and showed good sportsmanship.
Congrats to Team あか (aka) for their victory and great work to everyone! おつかれさまでした!!!!
Today marks the conclusion of our second week at the Governor’s Japanese Academy. We began our day with extra long language classes in order to clear up space for our afternoon activities.
After lunch we began our second day of Traditional Japanese Cooking, this time featuring sushi. We were given a variety of fillings including imitation crab, smoked salmon, tuna-mayo, cucumbers, carrots, and 玉子焼き(a type of Japanese rolled scrambled egg). We were then able to choose our toppings and build our unique sushi creations. We had a lot of fun picking our ingredients and rolling our sushi using bamboo mats. The end product was amazing and we all ate enough to hold us off through dinner.
We are looking forward to 運動会(undoukai - sports festival) which takes place tomorrow, and also to sharing our newly acquired sushi knowledge with our friends and family!
Happy July 1st, families! Only a few more days until our reunion! Today, after our PM language class, our very own Hanako Senpai graciously gave us a PowerPoint presentation, and then performed an authentic Japanese tea ceremony for everyone. The presentation provided a brief history on the practice, some influential figures, and supplies that are used. Hanako Senpai also discussed the tea ceremonies' connection to Zen Buddhism and the different principles of tea, like tranquility, or jaku, and purity, or sei. One student, Conner, said that his favorite part of the tea ceremony was “the tradition, politeness, formality, and patience.” The tea ceremony is a tradition that has been heavily preserved and passed down through many generations, and we were so lucky to have experienced a part of that history.
Big thanks to Hanako Senpai for hosting the tea ceremony! おつかれさまです!! (otsukaresama desu! A job well done!)
Today, after our morning language classes, we received a lecture from Dr. Bell on Japanese comparative government. She taught us about the different branches of the government as well as more details of individual government roles. She also taught us the importance of the Diet, as well as different political parties. All of these factors were then compared to America's government, as well as a few others. Thank you Dr. Bell for your time and lecture! ありがとうございました！
Later in the day, we had a bit of free time, in which many of us continued to work on our woodblock prints. Throughout our past carving sessions, we've understood more deeply the time, skill, and energy each print takes, even with our more simplified process.
As well, after dinner, we prepared for our upcoming 運動会 (undoukai), or sports day. During the preparation, the academy split into two teams、 白 (white) and 赤 (red), and began team spirit and strategy planning. Malia, from 赤 and also a member of the 運動会 han, says, "the preparation was a great bonding experience with the team...we built solid support for each other and all had fun." We can't wait for the event to take place this Sunday!
After our daily morning classes, we received another lecture from one of our staff members, this time on traditional Japanese music, as well as its modern applications. The group’s favorite example was the band Wagakki, which combines traditional instruments with modern rock and pop melodies. One student, Noah, said he especially liked the band because it follows our Academy’s motto for this year, おんこちしん（温故知新）, by taking the old (traditional instruments), and turning it into the new (modern rock music). We highly recommend checking them out!
Over the past week, we have learned about the art of traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking, and have been working on designs to create our own prints. Many students drew inspiration from Kawase Hasui, an artist from the early 1900s whose original prints we were able to observe both in an exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, as well as in person from Randolph-Macon’s private collection. Our students created many different designs, such as the Itsushima Torii Gate, koi fish, or even the kanji for their family names. Today we began carving our designs into linoleum blocks rather than wood, in the interest of safety. We’ll soon be applying ink to our blocks and creating our actual prints; we can’t wait to share the finished products with you!
Here's Randolph-Macon College's collection - please take a peek!
As always, see you next time! じゃあ、また！
Today was a very entertaining and educational day at the Academy. We received a guest lecture from Dr. Doering, Randolph-Macon’s professor of music. Dr. Doering started with a lecture about the history and application of music in Japanese silent film, accompanied with live music. There was also a demonstration on how traditional live theater worked in Japan, with live music and a narrator, or べんし (benshi), brought to us during Dr. Doering’s presentation by our very own Kyle-sensei.
After lunch and afternoon language classes, Joseph-sensei spoke to us about Japanese philosophy, specifically Nishida Kitaro, a famous Japanese philosopher. We learned about Nishida’s life, his teachings, and how his ideas impacted not only Japan, but also the world as a whole.
To end our day, we had a second movie night, watching Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away (千と千尋). Along with enjoying the movie on its own, we learned about underlying cultural symbolism and common themes in Ghibli films. We’re excited to share this movie, along with all of our other knowledge, with our families at home!
こんにちは！After finishing our first full week of the Japanese Academy, we have learned so much already! This Monday’s activities included a lesson in Japanese calligraphy, or しょどう (shodo), which was taught by the glorious Rie Sensei, everyone’s “stand-in mom” here at the Academy. Her vast knowledge on the art of calligraphy aided us in the Kanji writing we did later in the day on our はちまき (hachimaki), headbands that will be worn during our upcoming sports festival, うんどかい (Undokai). We wrote words that we felt represented our individual personalities, such as “tree”, “moonlight”, “rain”, and even “stinky”... Make sure to look out for pictures and updates on our Undokai this Sunday!!
We also discussed our おしばい (Oshibai), which is the play that will be performed for all of our families on the Saturday before we leave. Parents, make sure to check your email for an invitation. We can’t tell you much, but here’s a little hint, it’s sure to give you chills…
See you next time! じゃあ、また！