Saturday was primarily focused on making どらやき (dorayaki), a Japanese sweet snack made by spreading bean paste in between two pancakes, for both ourselves and the Latin Academy students. We spent the first half of the day with extended core classes, lasting until lunch. After we ate, we gathered outside the church kitchen. While the Cooking Han prepared the ingredients, the rest of the students had another group workshop about the Oshibai performance. After a couple of minutes, the Cooking Han emerged with batter and あんこ (anko) red bean paste. We then divided into four groups, three dedicated to making the pancake components, the last being in charge of spreading the anko on the bread and assembling the dorayaki. We made over 100 dorayaki in total, splitting them evenly between the Latin and Japanese Academy students. And in the words of our peer, おいしい！ (oishii) which means "yummy" in Japanese.
On the first Friday of the academy, we learned more about the Japanese singer Hoshino Gen, or the Americanized version of his name, Gen Hoshino, and we even learned a dance to one of his songs, Koi. After that, Rie-sensei taught us how to do calligraphy. “The calligraphy was one of my favorite parts so far,” in the words of a fellow attendee. We learned the stroke order to a kanji of our choice to write on our hachimaki, a headband that we are going to wear on Undoukai (Sports Day), which some of us are helping to plan. Later, we had another session of brainstorming ideas for our Oshibai project, a play that we are going to present at the end of the academy that is entirely in Japanese. The story is coming together quite nicely. Finally, we had time to work on our Chihou research projects in which we found a lot of interesting info that you’ll be able to see when we present them at the end of the academy!
Today we got to see original woodblock printings from The Randolph-Macon Library's special collection, many of which were mentioned in Emily senpai’s presentation. Seeing the prints in person was a great and enjoyable experience. It gave us a captivating glance into the past. At this academy, we have had a very jam packed schedule full of enjoyable activities "that leaves no time to be bored," as one member of the Academy described. Amidst our busy schedule, we were given an hour of downtime, during which we had the opportunity to go to the gym, study, etc. At the gym, “We had gym-time fun-time”, as described by a fellow student Ros. Students in the Cooking han also prepared to teach all of the Academy's students how to make dorayaki -- more on that later!
We started the day off with core language lessons, and then a lecture from Randolph-Macon Professor of Mathematics, Dr. David Clark, about ancient Japanese mathematics. He talked about kissing circles, circles that are tangent to each other, and how they were the inspiration to many mathematical phenomenon. He related this unique Japanese style of mathematics to the history of math in general, and discussed the origins of math. We had the chance to attempt a simple kissing circle problem, which only three students could solve. Later that afternoon, we had the pleasure of listening to a presentation by our very own Emily-senpai about woodblock printing, a traditional Japanese art form. It was revealed that throughout the academy we would be working on our very own woodblock prints! We ended the evening with a lively session of karaoke and Just Dance.
We are already hard at work in our core language classes! We also heard an informative lecture about the Japanese political system from Randolph-Macon College's Dr. Lauren Bell. She went in depth about the structure of the Japanese government, the sociopolitical context behind it, and the different parties involved. We then socialized with our sister academy, the Latin Academy, and we each learned each other's language. Then we started our chihou (region) projects. We used the computers to research different topics about each of our own regions. Then we ended off the day with an enjoyable Studio Ghibli film, Howl’s Moving Castle, which we enjoyed a lot.
Today, our official first day, we did our first Radio Taiso in the morning, a brief exercise which served as an energizing way to start the day. After breakfast, we learned some essential phrases to survive in the academy. Soon after, we went to our first official class of the academy. The beginner class learned hiragana, the basic writing system of the Japanese language; the intermediate class learned basic phrases; and the advanced class learned how to do more elaborate introductions. We then gathered together and learned more about our staff and fellow students. We participated in some fun icebreakers like Trainwreck and じゃんけん (janken), or Rock, Paper, Scissors. Lastly, we divided into hans, special job subgroups, and now our blog han is writing this to you!
Until we meet again in the next post!
On the opening day, we were welcomed to the Governor’s Japanese Academy. After getting cleared from the COVID test, we unloaded and got our first taste of dorm life. After the opening ceremony, the time came to part ways with our parents. Oh, parting is such sweet sorrow! We divided into six different groups called Chihous, which are named after different regions of Japan. And so the fun began.