Activities to learn about Japan
Origami is the art of paper folding. In fact the Japanese word origami translates literally to “to fold paper”. Paper was introduced to Japan from China in the 6th century and it is thought that origami either accompanied the importation of paper technology, or was created shortly after. The designs created by folding paper can be extremely intricate indeed and can be used with any type of paper. Try using different types of paper from your recycling bin for interesting textures and colours. This is a great way to re-use before recycling!
Check out this site for excellent directions on making a paper crane – an origami creation that is thought to be very lucky – especially if you make 1000 of them!
This origami page has directions for origami projects.
Enchanted Learning also lists a few simple origami projects including a jumping frog, a butterfly and a whale.
Haiku dates back hundreds of years in Japan and is a contemplative yet very succinct verse relating a seasonal moment. It is still a popular art form in Japan and is gaining followers around the world.
Containing only 17 syllables broken into 3 lines (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables), haiku poetry has been compared to a photograph of nature.
Try writing haiku poems to celebrate nature or explore your environment further. This is a great activity to do while sitting outside and feeling immersed in nature, or, if it’s a little too cold out, while watching nature from a warm vantage point.
Here are some examples of famous Japanese haikus; because they have been translated, they do not necessarily follow the traditional syllable form. They do, however, present very clear and beautiful images of the moment in a very concise manner.
Won’t you come and see
loneliness? Just one leaf
from the kiri tree.
– by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way, this –
and it passes by.
– by Issa. (1762-1826).
The crow has flown away:
swaying in the evening sun,
a leafless tree.
– by Soseki Natsume (1867-1916)
Examples created in English that do follow the traditional verse form:
A tree sighs, lets go –
the last leaf slips to the ground.
Cold, alone, waiting.
Quick mother squirrel
Flick of the tail – up tree, down
nut taken, babe fed