Thursday, June 4, 2015

Animals of Japan; Geology/Geography of Japan

We watched several "travel video"-type movies about Japan during this unit, and our favorite was probably this one from "The Little Travelers." It's made from the viewpoint of two little girls traveling (alone, they make it seem like) around Japan. Daisy and Junie especially liked it. There are funny parts where the little girls try new foods or play with other children, and it just gives a feel of "this is real life in Japan." It was cute.

We talked a lot about Japan's geology, since it is so exciting! Hot springs, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami…all things the children are interested in. We had watched some videos of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami during our Natural Disasters Unit (you can find links here) so we looked up those and watched some of them again. The power of those huge waves is truly amazing.

We also thought the pictures of the earthquake's aftermath, here, were very interesting.

Here is an episode of Begin Japanology about Japan's volcanoes.

The children, naturally, also loved learning about the Shinkansen or bullet train. They've loved all kinds of high-speed trains ever since learning about them during our Train Unit, but we talked more about the TGV than we did the Shinkansen at that time, so it was fun to learn more about this specifically Japanese innovation. We learned that the Shinkansen was developed by a man who made kamikaze fighter planes (with no landing gear, but with streamlined fronts suited for dive-bombing ships) during World War II. He used the streamlined nose designs from the planes to inspire the distinctive front end of the Shinkansen. This was a good video about the Shinkansen, and this video about how the workers clean the trains in only seven minutes was interesting too.

Japan has many interesting animals, but we were most interested in a couple specific ones: the Japanese Macaques or snow monkeys (the ones that like to sit in the geothermal pools—we're always seeing pictures of them) and the bunnies of Bunny Island.

We quite enjoyed this movie about the Snow Monkeys. It's your typical kind of nerdily-dramatized nature documentary (narrated by Liam Neeson). Be aware that does show some monkeys mating. And a baby monkey dies. :( But the monkeys are so cute! We loved them.

Speaking of monkeys, my friend Carrie Ann told us about her visit to this monkey park near Kyoto. It was in one of the travel videos we watched too. It looks so fun! We would love to go there.

Bunny Island is a tiny island in Japan where there is a huge colony of semi-tame rabbits. They think some rabbits were maybe left there by schoolchildren a long time ago, and then multiplied? Here is some of the story behind it. It looks like a place I would love to visit. So many bunnies! There are lots more pictures and videos:  Hereherehere,  here and even more here.

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