Japanese language camp a ‘winter’ festival

During Jumbunna Week, at their language camp, students of Japanese in Years 4 to 6 deepened their understanding of the Japanese way of celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Their activities included music performances, drama (role-play), a quiz show, traditional games, art activities and sports.

The first calligraphy written at the beginning of a year (Kakizome) is traditionally performed on 2 January.

Eri Sensei demonstrated how to write using a calligraphy brush in the same way as she had done when she was a primary school student.

The students were invited to write a few words related to New Year, an “own wish” or ambition, and their favourite word in Kanji (Chinese character), such as 友 which means friend.

Craft activities at Japanese language camp
Craft activities at Japanese language camp

The students painted a bag using stencils of pictures and words related to Japanese winter and New Year.

Japanese language camp
Stencilled bags

The students performed, singing a famous song for New Year, Oshoogatsu no uta, as they played instruments and danced using a scarf.

The students loved playing a variety of sports traditionally played by Japanese primary school students on Sports Day. Their favourite game was tamaire, which involved throwing balls into a basket held up high by their teachers. I am not sure if the teachers liked the game…

Japanese camp games
Japanese camp games

Fukuwarai is one of famous games played on New Year. With their eyes covered, the players put parts of the face onto a blank face. The students enjoyed playing the game, guiding their partner in Japanese.

The students were kept busy practising role-play for our special oshoogatsu (New Year) video. Each group played a scene from New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day using a variety of props. This allowed the students to further understand how Japanese people celebrated the special days.

Japanese language camp games
Japanese language camp games

Flying a kite is another popular activity Japanese children enjoy around New Year. The students created their own Takoage Kite.

The students enjoyed playing sugoroku, which was created by Year 6 students and involved answering a lot of questions to reach the goal.

One of their favourite activities was playing with traditional Japanese toys including kendama, hanetsuki, darumaotoshi and karuta.

Machiko Ohta
Assistant Head of Junior School Languages (Asian Languages)