Adventures in Japanese: From ‘Kakizome’ to Kindy festivals

To begin the term, Year 5 Japanese language students were invited to experience “Kakizome”, which means “first writing”.

Watching a short piece of news, the students learned that in Japan, some primary school aged students engaged in calligraphy to begin the year.

“Following the tradition, the students enjoyed writing ‘いのしし’ (wild boar), which is this year’s zodiac sign in Japan and ‘お正月’ (New Year) using a special piece of paper and calligraphy brush without ink,” Machiko Sensei said.

Machiko Sensei also explained that she “cast a spell on the paper so that they could write without any ink”, but the students quickly figured out that the “special paper reacted to the water”.

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Students enjoying the writing activity

“Many students called out ‘Look at mine!’ and proudly showed their own masterpiece,” she said. “They really enjoyed the activity and didn’t want to stop.”

In our Kindergarten classrooms, students learning Japanese have been embracing greetings, classroom instructions and numbers in class.

They have also learned about “setsubun”, an annual Japanese event in early February which can be translated as “bean-throwing festival” or “division of seasons”. The purpose of the festival is to ward off bad spirits at the start of spring.

“People in Japan throw roasted beans around the house saying ‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!’, which means ‘bad spirits out’, and ‘let happiness in’,” Machiko Sensei said.

Family members may also wear masks of “oni” (bad spirits) in celebration of the cleansing process of the festival.

“In order to celebrate this special occasion, the students learned about the event by watching a short video of how bean-throwing takes place in Japan and by singing a song,” Machiko said.

The class then made their own “oni” masks (representing bad spirits) to wear and show their friends.

Alahni wearing her “oni” mask

“I hope Kindy students will enjoy the journey of Japanese learning at IGS,” Machiko said.

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