Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Japanese homes and culture; Japanese art projects

My friend Carrie Ann, who teaches college classes in interior design, and who has been to Japan to visit her brother and Japanese sister-in-law, graciously came to talk to us about the traditional Japanese home. It was awesome. She showed us lots of pictures and we learned some new words:

tatami—the straw mats that line the floor of traditional homes
tokonoma—a little alcove where beautiful things are displayed (usually a scroll, some seasonal flowers, etc.)
genkan—the entryway, a step down from the rest of the house, where people leave their shoes
ikebana—traditional Japanese flower arrangements
wabi-sabi—Carrie Ann described this as the concept of "perfectly imperfect." We loved that.

The children also wanted to know ALLLLL about Japanese toilets. And Carrie Ann obliged. They are cool! Heated seats, jets of cleaning water, etc. We wish we could get one. We later watched a whole episode of "Begin Japanology" (we LOVE that show) on toilets. We highly recommend it. It is the most discreet, polite, yet fascinating look at toilets you will ever encounter.
Another day, we watched this fascinating video about kimonos. There are so many different and beautiful designs! And it was really interesting to learn that they are only sewn with straight seams.

We made little paper dolls/bookmarks wearing kimonos. We got the idea here: paper kimonos. The template for the doll and kimono is here. I just went into Photoshop and erased the flowers from the image so we could draw our own designs. I personally like Abe's ultramodern Rubik's Cube kimono design.
And here is another art project we did. We learned about Katsushika Hokusai and looked at some of his famous woodblock prints. I thought about having the children make some woodblock prints themselves (we have done this before, when learning about Winslow Homer and the Civil War) but we were short on time that day, so we ended up just painting these Japanese woodblock print coloring pages. They liked doing that too.

You can learn more about Hokusai (and see examples of his work) here at Artsy.

But—the best thing we did was watch some videos showing every step of the process of traditional Japanese woodblock print-making. Sam's friend did a kickstarter project where he had some of these prints made using the old methods. The videos are fascinating. A little long, but it just gives you some idea of how much meticulous, painstaking work goes into making a woodblock print like this. We were all just amazed. Here is a link to those videos: Woodblock prints process

On another day, we wrote haiku. These are the two the children came up with together as we learned about the form (they also each wrote their own). I think they're pretty good.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...