Daily Archives: January 18, 2017

Ikebana

After school on Wednesday, we were lucky enough to participate in a special after-school session. The teachers used a guiding text, written by Akane Teshigahara (the fourth Iemoto of the Sogetsu School), to introduce ikebana, the art of flower arrangements.

The flowers and plants chosen for us offered the perfect combination of texture, color, and seasonal flare.

The flowers and plants chosen for us offered the perfect combination of texture, color, and seasonal flare.

Students learned the basic upright style, moribana, which begins with the shin, soe, and hikae elements. These foundational terms describe the architectural basis for the structure and form of traditional floral and plant arrangements.

Porter's students listening to the sensei before the cutting and arranging began

Porter’s students listening to the sensei before the cutting and arranging began.

Children as young as 4 or 5 years old begin to practice this art form which combines height, width, and depth to create three-dimensional expressions of the heart and mind. Materials include flowers, branches, leaves, and other elements from the natural world (gourds, vegetables) that blend together in color, harmony, and design to reflect the feelings of the person who arranged the composition.

Here’s Elizabeth Davis on the experience…

“Today at Kichijo, we had the opportunity to take a flower arranging class! It was something that many people in our group, including myself, have wanted to do from the start.

In addition to the fun and excitement, the process was very surprising to me. There are so many considerations that go into flower arranging of which I was unaware. It is all so precise.

Flower arranging takes an eye for simple beauty. Here's a Kichijo student quietly working on the angles in her kenzan.

Flower arranging takes an eye for simple beauty. Here’s a Kichijo student quietly working on the angles in her kenzan.

Every piece is placed at a certain angle in order to have a strong and beautiful structure to the creation. We were also told that the outcome should portray its creator in some way, making all of the flowers different and beautiful in their own way. Even though we each had a slightly different arrangement at the end, they all looked wonderful.

This small exposure to such a surprising and different art form was definitely an incredible experience and I know we are all so grateful for it!”

Extra! Extra!, Part 2 of 2

On Tuesday, four Porter’s students were interviewed by members of the Kichijo School Newspaper for their spring edition, out in March 2017. The school paper is published five times a year.

Here’s Maddy Pavlovich on the experience…

“After a day of classes at Kichijo School, we sat at one large table and everyone quickly introduced themselves to the group. The three Kichijo students asked us many questions about the differences between Porter’s and Kichijo, Japanese food, our impressions of Kichijo students, and many other topics.

At first, the interview discussion was very organized. One student asked a question and each Porter’s representative took their turn to answer. By the end of the interview though, my favorite form of chaos had emerged: a comfortable and fluid conversation. It reminded me a lot of the conversations we have in my classes at Porter’s.

The students wrapped up the interview by asking some travel advice for America. If a Kichijo student was going to America, where would we tell them to go? After naming some big cities like New York, Boston, and D.C., I told them that they should go somewhere unexpected. See the big cities, but at some point visit a small town just outside of the city.

As I reflected back on this advice, I realized that some of my favorite things in Tokyo so far are the things I have found just outside the popular streets and shopping areas. There is a beautiful shrine down the street from my host family’s house and a restaurant that serves delicious udon and soba just outside the train station. But my favorite place in Tokyo is a small, narrow street with tiny restaurants that always smells so amazing as I walk past on my way home from a long day at school.”

Roles and Responsibilities of Schools, Part 2 of 3

During morning reflection on Monday, students were charged with responding to the role(s) and responsibility(ies) of schools to individuals and society in a rapidly changing world. We’ve had the opportunity to experience three different schools since we’ve been in Japan, and Porter’s students considered their classroom and community experience in light of our visits to all three schools.

The discussion was framed by the historic events that begin–and conclude–this week in the United States: honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and anticipating the Inauguration of our nation’s 45th President. How do schools play a role in the vision and imagination of building a peaceful, compassionate neighborhood of humankind?

Here’s Tina Feng…

“We started off the conversation with accumulated observations and superficial judgments based off of those details that we noticed with our 16 host families. Almost everyone’s comments on the Japanese lifestyle and education system were in comparison to the American ways and portrayed the Japanese culture in a negative light.

Finding simple beauty in this very large city is is easier than we might have previously thought. It's everywhere you look, from the street art to the efficiency of the trains.

Finding simple beauty in this very large city is is easier than we might have previously thought. It’s everywhere you look, from the street art to the efficiency of the trains.

We covered topics such as a women’s role in the household, which seemed to solely be “housewife” (cook, caretaker, and janitor) within our small sample population. With minimal information (our observations were mostly visual since the language barrier prevented most of us from having in depth conversations) on moms from a non-diverse (only host families from Kichijo School) group, we assumed that that was the image of a typical mom in Japanese households.

However halfway into the discussion, a couple classmates mentioned how many of the families who could host us had stay-at-home moms because they would actually have the time to take care of us. This comment was followed by many other bias-breaking and eye-opening comments on how limited our perspectives were. Soon enough, it seemed like we realized that we had made inaccurate assumptions and stereotypes, and we immediately started to challenge those assumptions.

I’m really glad that we were able to bring it back and stick to our Porter’s 2016-2017 school year theme of challenging assumptions, even if those assumptions were ones that we created about other people.”