MARQUETTE- Most second- through fifth-graders aren't learning Japanese culture and tradition. But a group of children in the area are.
The Marquette Arts and Culture Center offers a Japanese Tradition and Art for Children workshop every winter. The children who attend learn Japanese words, tradition and the culture as well as getting an option to be hands on, said instructor Tomoko Inoue.
"At the first class the kids all get a set of chopsticks to work with," Inoue said. "We practice with them every meeting and they get to put them to use in the final class."
A traditional Japanese offering during a recent workshop.
A student of the workshop enjoys noodles. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Marquette Arts and Culture Center instructor Tomoko Inoue teaches children Japanese during a workshop. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
The workshop meets once a week for four weeks. According to Inoue, she does get some repeaters, but finds it nice to see the new faces. Each class they start with a list of words to say. The first week the children started with colors and greetings, the second week they added numbers and money and the third week they added family members.
"It's very surprising to see that the children can pick it up really well," Inoue said. "I think with adults they know the accent it's suppose to be in and know English very well, that it makes it harder for them to learn. Where as the children take it as is and do it very well. It's very interesting to see."
After going over words the children get to do a hands-on activity. The activities include origami, traditional Japanese painting and learning how to use chopsticks properly. The last class is spent at Temaki & Tea, where the children get to put their chopstick stills to use.
"We go there because it's the only Japanese restaurant in Marquette and I think we're very fortunate to have one in such a small town like this," Inoue said.
Inoue works for Great Lakes Center for Youth Development and has been doing this workshop for many years. Not only does she do a workshop for MACC once a year, Inoue said she also goes into schools and church groups to do a shortened version as well.
"It's really fun to share something they don't get to learn about as often," she said. "To see that sparkle in their eye when they figure out how to do something or how to say a word right is just great."
Inoue said she hopes the children will learn some of the differences and similarities between the Japanese culture and their own.
"Maybe as they grow up they can be more tolerant of different cultures and see them as equals," she said.
For more information on Marquette Arts and Culture Center workshops visit www.mqtcty.org/arts.php.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.