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We have started our Japan topic by looking at our home town first. We have looked at the geographical features of a town. To do this we went on a walk - just a long the road, then came back to school and make a word bank of the features we had found. 

Pictures of the features

We then looked at a Japanese town (Tsuwano). We explored using Google Earth and looked at the features. We made a list of these features in our books. We then looked closely at the houses in the town and drew an observational drawing of a house from the Town. Looking closely at the shapes and patterns on the buildings. 

We looked at the English countryside. We explored using Google Earth and looked at the features. We then used chalk pastel to recreate a photo of Ben Nevis in Scotland using new techniques with our chalk pastels. 

Features of the UK country side

Ben Nevis - we tried to recreate this picture below using chalk pastels.

We looked at the Japanese countryside and compared it with the UK, we found the feature of the countryside were very similar but looked different e.g. the houses were made out of different materials etc. We then found a picture of the Japanese countryside and practised out chalk techniques to create a countryside picture. 

Japanese countryside

Japanese countryside chalk pictures

We look at traditional dress in both cultures. We looked at items such as kilts, Beefeater uniforms, Morris men outfits. We also looks at Kimonos and the significance towards them. 

The children had a look at traditional Japanese food. We found out that Japan’s traditions cuisine is based upon seasonal foods. We looked at sushi and rice. The children were given a variety of different Japanese foods found in the supermarket, we talked about the foods, what they looked like, smelt like, might taste like and if any of the children had eaten them before. We then talked about the use of chop sticks in Japanese culture. The children were then given a lesson on how to use them. We then practiced using then by picking up mini marshmallows. 

This week we have explored London and Tokyo. We have looked at the features of cities and what we might find in each one. The children were very impressed with the scale of each city. With some even saying they wanted to move to London! 

We then compared both cities, thinking about what features they both had. We have been learning to use noun phrases. So we tried out hardest to use as much description as we could! 

We looked at an artist called Paul Klee. Who was a Swiss born painter, with a unique style that was influenced by expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and orientalism. One of his painting "Castle and the sun" looked a lot like a city sky line. We took inspiration from his work and decided to create our own version of his picture. Using 2D shapes we made our own version of Tokyo. The children worked in partners to make these pictures, dieciding in pairs where each shape would go. Then colouring a side each. They tried their hardest to use a side to side shaping technique. Well done everyone - great team work! 

Paul Klee's - Castle and Sun

We have looked at traditional Japanese poetry called Haikus. We learnt that they traditionally focused on the seasons and had a certain structure.   


Traditional Haiku Structure

  1. There are only three lines, totaling 17 syllables.
  2. The first line is 5 syllables.
  3. The second line is 7 syllables.
  4. The third line is 5 syllables like the first.


We practiced writing our own:

We looked at the work of Meiji Hashimoto. This piece of art can be seen in the State Hall of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. A cherry blossom painting that thoroughly embodies the spirit of Japan! He based the painting on his sketches of the Mihara Takizakura, an iconic thousand-year old cherry tree in Tamura, Fukushima.



We decided to take our knowledge of printing which we had learnt earlier in the year and make our own collaborative piece of art work inspired by the work of Meiji Hashimoto. The children make their own stamp out of polystyrene. They scored the shape of one  cherry blossom into a piece of polystyrene and then cut it out to make a stamp. They then scored the detail into the insides of the petals. 


Once their stamps were finished they put paint of them and printed onto a big piece of paper creating a cherry blossom tree. 

Cherry blossom printing

While some children were creating their cherry blossom tree others were trying their hand at other Japanese activities. Such as origami, making decorative fans, drawing manga characters and writing Japanese words (Kanji).

Our Japanese festival - The children’s festival 

We learnt about the celebration of "Childrens Day". It is a day that is celebrated in Japan on the 5th May and it is a day set aside to respect children's personalities and to celebrate their happiness. It has been a day of celebration in Japan since ancient times.


On this day, families raise the koinobori, which are carp-shaped windsock (carp because of the Chinese legend that a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon and flies to Heaven, and the way the windsock blow in the wind looks like they are swimming). We made out own windsocks and decorated the outside with them.


For our Children Day celebrations we learnt a traditional Japanese folk dance. This traditional Japanese folk dance is called Tanko Bushi. It reflects the movements of workers in a coal mine, relating the dance to the life of the common people. 

Tanko Bushi - Japanese Folk Dance

Still image for this video


Still image for this video

We learnt to play a traditional Japanese game called Otedama.


The simple rules:

A simple game (similar to jacks):

Scatter the five beanbags on the floor. Pick up one and toss it into the air. With the same hand, pick up another bag and catch the falling one. Repeat until all the beanbags are picked up. Start again, but this time pick up two bags at each toss, then three bags, then four bags.

Finally, toss five beanbags into the air and catch as many as you can on the back of the same hand. Flip the bags that you caught into the air again and catch as many as you can in the palm of same hand.


A little more difficult (and the one that we tried):

Scatter the five beanbags on the floor. Pick up one and toss it into the air. With the same hand, pick up another bag and transfer it to your other hand. Repeat until you have four beanbags in one hand, and catch the thrown beanbag in the other.

Scatter again. This time pick up two beanbags to transfer, and so on.

After playing a wonderful game we went inside and tried a variety of Japanese foods. Traditionally on Children's day Kashiwa mochi would be served. So this is what we tried first. These are sticky rice cakes with different fillings. We then tried seaweed, ordinary rice cakes, Jelly straws and Mikado. There were mixed opinions but all the children tried them all and had a great time! Some even found new foods that they loved! 


What a great day we have had!