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Matsuri in Kentucky Teacher Preparation Program

Matsuri - (mah tsew ree): Japanese traditional festival or carnival

Festivals are a great way for students to develop an understanding and appreciation for a culture... and have fun in the process. The information below is designed to guide you through five traditional Japanese activities, providing the necessary information to create a "matsuri" in your own school.

The following was created with the support of the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Activity 1: Origami
Origami is one of Japan's traditional paper-craft arts. You can make many shapes simply by folding a small square of paper. Children are often taught origami by their parents or grandparents. They also sometimes learn in school as early as kindergarten or preschool.

Resources: Click here to find origami paper suppliers.

Activity 2: Kamizumo (Paper Doll Sumo)
Kamizumo is a simple game loved and played by Japanese children for a very long time. All you need is a box with a circle drawn or placed on top and 2 paper sumo wrestlers! Don't be the first to fall or go outside the circle!

Resources: Sumo Wrestler Character Cutout Sheet

Activity 3: The Chopstick Game
Chopsticks are an essential part of a Japanese person's daily life. One of the first things noticed at a dinner is how well you use chopsticks. Bad chopstick use can be worse than "elbows on the table!" It's no wonder there's a game to test your skills against others! Build your skills here and take the challenge!

Resources: "How to Hold Chopsticks" Supplemental Sheet

Activity 4: Fukuwarai!
Fukuwarai is a popular game at New Years in Japan. The Fukuwarai face is from Japanese History - an old symbol of a beautiful, fertile and prosperous woman. However, it doesn't take much to change this beauty's face into a work of abstract art! Perhaps this game is played to see how much good fortune awaits you in the new year... though most play it just because it's so fun. In this traditional Japanese version of "Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey," assemble the pieces together blindfolded and see how close to prosperity you can get!

Resources: Sample Fukuwarai set

Activity 5: Shodo (Japanese Calligraphy)
Shodo can be traced back to copying Kanji inscribed on stone. Wang Xizhi is credited with starting Shodo. Chinese characters (what Japan adopted and calls Kanji) were introduced to Japan around the 4th & 5th centuries and Shodo as an art was introduced to Japan in the 8th century. Japanese style Shodo was developed around the 11th century in the Heian Period, and it was (and still is) considered important for cultured people.

Even in this era of computers, word processors, and texting, Japanese children still learn calligraphy in elementary school, and Shodo remains a popular hobby for all generations.

Resources: Click here to find Shodo item suppliers.