On November 16, 2016 we had a JSP field trip to visit Kawagoe Elementary School. We had a couple of meetings before the actual day since we had to plan an activity to do with the kids. We also all recorded short video self-introductions that the kids all watched and then wrote follow-up questions to.
All of the JSP students were split up into three groups that would visit a different class. For our group we ended up planning to do a game with them that I called “Jan Ken Train Game.” It’s just the game where everyone does rock-paper-scissors and the loser has to join the winner’s “train” until there are only 2 long trains left and winner takes everyone. That was fairly simple to explain and most of the kids had played some version of that game before too so it went well.
The children had also planned different activities to do with us to let us experience Japanese culture. They had prepared origami, jan ken po, Japanese spinning tops, fukuwarai–which is the activity where you are blindfolded and then have to try to put the facial features on a picture of a head, and shiritori– a game which I like the literal translation of. It’s called “taking the butt,” and you have to create a new word from the end sound of the word last used.
We also played a game called “hana ichi monme” which is the Japanese version of “Red Rover.” I thought was really fun especially since I didn’t really know what was going on. To be honest I think that the kids were just happy to play not really caring that they had foreign college students visiting their class. For this game the class split into two groups. Everyone stands in a long line and holds hands and then the two groups face each other. There is a song that you sing when you start the game and each side has to say their alternating lines. At the end of the song then everyone gathers together to choose which people they want to try and take from the other side. The chosen ones then have to jan ken po. The winners get to steal the losers from the other team. If you don’t understand my explanation (because it’s terrible), here’s what it said on Wikipedia:
Hana Ichi Monme (花一匁?) is a traditional Japanese children’s game. The game is similar to the game Red Rover in the Western world. This game is often played in kindergartens and elementary schools. The children split into two groups, and the members of each group hold hands, so that the teams face each other in two lines. One group steps toward the other in the rhythm of a song that is used only for the game, and the other steps back so that the team lines remain parallel. In each phrase of the song, the team that is stepping back changes, and the team creates a move that associates a swing. The name “Hana Ichi Monme” means “a flower is one monme.” A monme is an historical (Edo period) Japanese coin with a value of 3.75 grams of silver.
Each time the song ends, the team leaders step forward and do janken, a Japanese version of rock-paper-scissors. The winner goes back to his team, and they discuss who the team wants to add from the other team. After they have decided, they sing another song doing the same movement and announce the person they want. The game ends when one team loses all of its members.
Version 2: After the children line up, the team leader steps forward to janken. The winning team sings the first part (1) while they advance in line. The opposing team retreats in parallel. As the words monME is sung, the children kick into the air as if to kick the dirt into the opponent’s face. Then it’s time for the second team to sing their part of the lyrics below (2) as they advance in line. The two teams alternate the verses.
(1) Katte ureshii hana ichi monme
(2) Makete kuyashii hana ichi monme
(1) Ano ko ga hoshii
(2) Ano ko ja wakaran
(1) Sōdan shiyō
We’re so happy we won, hana ichi monme
We’re so upset we lost, hana ichi monme
We want that kid
We don’t understand which kid you mean
Let’s talk about it
The children then huddle to choose a person from the opposing team and return in line to call out…
(1)<name of child chosen eg.> Yoshi-chan ga hoshii
(2)<name of child chosen eg.> Keiko-chan ga hoshii
We want <e.g. Yoshi-chan>
We want <e.g. Keiko-chan>
If that description wasn’t good enough either and you have spare time on your hands, check out this super old looking video of some college students playing the game as well:
Anyways, besides the fun games and activities that we did with the kids we also got to experience kyuushoku or school lunch. The kids who were assigned lunch duty suited up with their masks and maybe even aprons to help serve out the lunch. All of the other kids lined up with their trays. I am not sure if everyone had their own tray or if they were just lining up to get a tray which they would put down on someone’s table. Once all of the kids had a tray at their seat then a group “itadakimasu” was said and then we ate.
It was really yummy but I was way too slow of a eater and I couldn’t finish it all. The kids were also asking me questions as we sat and ate together. I got things like “where are you from?” and “do you like Trump?”
Overall it was a great experience. I had been looking forward to this field trip because I love kids and I really wanted to see what a Japanese school was like since I hope to be teaching at one in the future after I graduate from college.
I know this post was a bit of a mess but I just wanted to try and push it out anyways. I have been at the language school for about a week now and I’ve been studying up to 6 hours every day just to try and catch up to the where the rest of the class is it. The grammar is mostly things I learned before but there’s a huge emphasis on kanji which was new to me. I am going to learn a lot in these next couple of months at the language school, which I hope to write about in more detail in a future post once I catch up.
If you read this, thank you! The next post will be about my outing with my host family to Tokyo Sky Tree and the Rikugien Gardens. Until next time!