As one of its teachers prepares to visit Japan this summer, West Branch School celebrated Kodomo No Hi, a Japanese Holiday that means Children’s Day.
“We’ve been studying Japan all year,” said Stacie Lakatos, teacher. “This was a holiday that seemed relevant. This holiday celebrates the happiness and success of all children.”
Lakatos, as part of a Bucknell University program, will be visiting major Japanese cities, such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She is one of 11 teachers nationwide to be selected to go on the trip, sponsored by Japan Foundation.
The group will be meeting with students and teachers in Japan to learn about peace education.
In preparation for her leaving on her trip and to wrap up the year of learning about the culture, students spent last Monday, the actual holiday is celebrated May 5, taking part in different Japan-related activities. They made sushi for lunch, learned to write their names in Japanese and read a children’s story.
The students also created carp banners. Lakatos said the fish’s symbolism is an important lesson for children.
“It’s a carp. And what the carp does is it swims up stream and against the current,” she said, on taking on challenges.
Another activity the students participated in was fish printing. Lakatos explained to the students that the practice was designed by fishers who wished to have an accurate measurement of how big a fish they caught without harming it. Students placed ink on a fish before pressing a piece of paper on it to make the print.
The students also interacted with guest teacher Bill Lundy, who attended college and lived in Japan for several years.
Lundy is fluent in Japanese and showed students Japanese martial arts as part of the presentation. Students learned about the Japanese culture by not only experiencing it but by asking questions, Lundy said.
“I love the mind of a child,” he said. “They don’t know so they’re so inquisitive and have great questions.”
Lakatos said by learning about different cultures and beliefs, students will have a world view and learn to accept differences rather than judge based on them.
Students said they enjoyed learning about the Japanese culture, as it allowed them to see what it is like in another country.
“They have such an open mind to differences of people,” Lakatos said about her students.