Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Art Education and the Tokyo Tower

Today we heard from Chihiro Tada. He operates a toy museum in Shinjuku ward. His father originally opened the museum encouraging children to explore the joys of low tech toys. He is concerned about the inability of children to be creative and communicate with one another, and he believes that turning off the television or computer games and playing with simple toys that use the imagination will help improve those two things. He showed us a toy that children used to be able to make on their own out of leaves. Today the only way they could make this toy is bringing in an older person to teach it to them in a workshop. The toy is called a snake. It works like Chinese handcuffs. You put a finger in the mouth and if you pull away it won't let you go. We made two simple toys that he said had been in existence for 350 years. Basically, he said someone had thought these up, and children used to make them all the time. He also said that when he was a student he never went anywhere without a spinning top.He would meet friends and play. The toys in the museum include toys made from wood by crafts people in Japan. He gives workshops to teachers and students and people come to the museum to work with the children. They make things with their hands, and their excitement about what they are doing causes them to communicate that excitement with the people around them. It was a very interesting talk, and I will definitely be using the items we made in class.
Our Inagi group met during the lunch break to discuss our presentation. We go first, so we want it to be decent. Cari has been doing the lion's share of the work pulling together the pictures in Windows Movie Maker. We'll have an opening and closing statement, so we hope it will be sufficient.
Then a former Fulbright Scholar who studied in Madison, WI took our questions about Japanese Education and Society. Clearly, the national curriculum is a point of contention among some teachers and society members. They feel it focuses too much on the basics and not enough on creativity. We seem to have the exact opposite in the states. Maybe we need to get together and develop a more balanced approach.
After the sessions a group of us took off on the Metro to see the Tokyo Tower. It looks just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It even gets lit up at night. We even got a faint view of Mt. Fuji! It was very hazy, but I can at least say I saw it! Looking down on this city is an incredible sight. It is just solid buildings, and then you'll see a shrine, and then maybe a bit of green.
Alright, I had to do the fake fall off of the tower.
Then of course we had to eat, so we wandered down the street a bit to what we thought was a noodle shop. Well, we walked in the wrong door and ended up in a Korean restaurant. I have to admit that I wasn't to courageous. Everything sounded spicy and that is not my thing. I got potato pancakes and they came drizzled in cheese sauce with spice. It was actually very good. Everyone loved what they ordered, so it was a happy mistake. We headed back, and I was suddenly tired. So, I'm blogging, finishing the last of my postcards, and making sure everything is ready to go for Thursday. We give our presentations tomorrow and then there is a farewell dinner. Most of the people we hung with tonight were Inagi. We really had a good time together. It will be weird not to see them anymore.


Richard said...

Ohayougozaimasu, Anne-san. That toy man sounded very interesting. I'll want to see your toys!
It's good to give your presentation first; then you can relax and enjoy the others.
Give a good presentation and enjoy your farewell dinner!
(Sorry if this sends twice. My computer is behaving irrationally.)

Jill said...

Wow, you got to see Tokyo Tower! Cool! I never got to see it when I was there. And your "falling" picture is so you ... I immediately thought of your video at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam. Heh. At least it looks like you got more into it this time. I knew you had it in you! :)

Jill said...

Duh ... all right, so when I was looking through my Japan pictures trying to find the photo of that girl I was telling you about, guess what I saw? A photo and a ticket for Tokyo Tower! Apparently I did go there! Oddly, I have no recollection of it at all, and I don't see any photos with a view from the tower. Can you believe that, though? This does not bode well for my future ... although if I can't remember anything, maybe I won't even notice! As they say, ignorance is bliss! :)