Explore Japan is a unique 2.5 week program that facilitates exchange and learning between local families and visiting Japanese students.
During Explore Japan, visiting students are placed with host families while taking English classes and participating in afternoon activities together with their host buddies. By spending a few weeks with a host family, visiting students gain significant confidence in their English skills and learn about the American lifestyle. In return, their host family learns a great deal about a foreign culture and the host student is able to attend a cultural summer program to learn even more. For families that host a visitor the entire program is free!
Below find some examples of the activities and workshops your child may participate in during Explore Japan.
Origami - Origami, the art of folding paper into beautiful and useful shapes, is a Japanese tradition that is becoming more and more popular in the west. Folding paper has its history in ancient times, in ceremonies performed in the royal court and in shrines. The introduction of origami into the primary schools in Japan under the rationale that paper play would develop logical thinking, imagination, creativity and manual dexterity. The limitless variety of shapes and materials appeals to people of all ages.
Flower Arrangement (Ikebana) - The flowers you use in Ikebana depend on the season. Each flower or plant has a special place in the arrangement and means something different. The tallest branches or flowers stand for the heavens. The middle ones stand for the people, and the lowest stand for the earth. Ikebana helps us appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature. In the program, students will each make their own arrangement under the supervision of an Ikebana expert.
Calligraphy (Shodo)- In Japan, calligraphy has long been a major art form. Originally the art of writing Chinese characters was introduced by Chinese priests who traveled to Japan during the spread of Buddhism. Some of these priests had tales and legends built around them, such as Kobo Daishi. Kobo Daishi as said to have leapt up into the air with a brush in each hand, a brush gripped in the toes of each foot and one clenched between his teeth, with which he managed to draw five perfect characters before he touched the ground. Clearly, we will try to teach more basic styles of calligraphy at Explore Japan! Students will learn how to use the Japanese brushes, ink and paper to create some Japanese words and write their own name in Japanese.
Japanese Language - Students will learn about the three styles of writing Japanese (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji) and also some common expressions. Each day, we will have an opportunity to practice with our visiting Japanese students (while they also try to brush-up on their English skills).
Tea Ceremony - Chanoyu, the tea ceremony, is uniquely Japanese. The essence of the tea ceremony is harmony. A tea ceremony will be performed and each student will have the opportunity to create their own tea bowl to take home with them.
Japanese Cuisine - Students will learn how to use chopsticks (hashi) and try some of the traditional flavors of Japanese cuisine. Students will work together in groups to create a Japanese meal (it's a cold meal - no cooking involved).
Tanka and Haiku - Tanka is a short poem with lines of five, seven, five, seven and seven syllables, unique to Japan. The Tanka is regarded as one of Japan's principle literary forms and has been read for hundreds of years. Haiku are shorter than Tanka, having lines of five, seven and five syllables. In haiku, the poet attempts to express his deepest emotions by describing nature in simple but beautiful language. Students will have the opportunity to practice both forms of poetry.
Tea CeremonyJapanese Arts and Crafts - Students will have a variety of arts and crafts projects to bring home, including creating a Japanese postcard and a Japanese wall hanging.
The following are some of the field trips that the students will embark on together with their Japanese visiting students. Each program location will have a different set of afternoon field trips, depending on their location. Additionally, some days will be devoted to activities on campus.*
* Some field trip destinations are subject to change depending on weather conditions, availability, etc.