Magazine article School Arts

Everything Japanese

Magazine article School Arts

Everything Japanese

Article excerpt

It was an amazing year. It started with a Fulbright Scholarship that sent me to Japan for three weeks. We learned about the Japanese culture, government, and education. We visited schools for the whole day, lived with Japanese families, and ate lots of good Japanese food. We saw Kabuki theater, visited museums, and went to full-day workshops. We took in an enormous amount of information.

I came away feeling the Japanese live their lives surrounded by beauty. It is all around them. It might be fresh flowers in student bathrooms (put there by a student or teacher), or in the presentation of food. Food should always look as beautiful as it tastes delicious. Presentation is everything. Art classes are more controlled than in the United States, but the work I saw was well-done and completely finished. Detail is important. Works, even though very controlled, showed the personality of the artist. They were by no means mechanical.

I came back to the states with lots of ideas for teaching students about Japan and Asia through the arts. My job was to put these ideas into realistic lessons and to align the new lessons with the State of Maine Learning Results. I wanted my students to learn about a culture by doing the art of that culture, so my whole art curriculum took on a Japanese twist. Everything was, in some way, linked to Japanese or Asian art and culture. The whole school team joined me in teaching something Japanese to their students. This is what I call true integration.

Here are just three of the many lessons that I taught as a result of my Fulbright experience:

Lesson 1: Japanese Architecture, Building a Three-Dimensional Japanese Pagoda or Shrine. Grade Five


paper, pencil, and rulers for preliminary drawings; foam board, X-acto knives and mats to protect surfaces; white glue; acrylic paints and brushes; some materials to make grass or trees for the final display


* To study elements of architecture and see the difference between these buildings and Western-style buildings.

* To begin to understand proportion and practice in measuring.

* To understand the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional.


Students worked in cooperative learning groups of four to five students. There was a note taker in each group so that progress was noted from one class to another. There was a rotation of note takers so that no one student was saddled with this task. Each group did research with the help of the teacher. They looked up the designs of shrines and pagodas and got a feel for the dimensions. Examples of these buildings were copied to use for reference By each group. The Internet, books and videotapes were all used. Students were given a demonstration on the use of the X-acto knife and scoring the foam board. Each group submitted a completed drawing of what their building would look like. These drawings needed to be okayed by the teacher. This gave the teacher time to meet with the group individually and make suggestions. When the group got approval, they went ahead with their designs. The parts were glued together following the forms of the drawings. Paint was applied and finishing touches were added for the final display. Cards were written describing the building and the history, etc.

Learning Results

Students will communicate through creative expression; understand human experiences, past and present; use artistic modes of problem solving; understand the power of the arts to create and reflect cultures; make decisions in situations where there are no standard answers.

Lesson 2: Miniature Japanese Screens. Grade Four


newsprint for preliminary drawings and paintings, rice paper for final brushstroke painting, india ink, Japanese brushes, large Popsicle sticks, white glue, rulers and pencils for measuring, scissors, and examples of Japanese screen prints


* To learn about Japanese screens, the subject matter painted and their place in Japanese history and society. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.