Recently I conducted a kids art workshop at Shibaura’s public elementary school. The free event was organized by Mitsui Fudosan, Recruit, and Neighbors Meeting, which printed this cool map of Shibaura. We asked kids to draw an animal or plant and add it to the map.
There were several surprises. Many of the kids who participated were two to four years old. They loved the coloring book of land and sea creatures created by Shu Kuge. On the Shibaura map, the kids were drawn to the water, both Tokyo Bay and the canals, as well as to the existing parks. One kid made his own Tokyo Tower and folded it so that it would stand vertically.
The other surprise is that kids still enjoy coloring and drawing. The event was billed as a celebration of future city, and our workshop competed for attention with a very cool pedal powered, ride-on-top shinkansen, a 3D printer, solar-powered remote control cars, and iPad games.
S.C.R.O.T.U.M.‘s Chris Berthelsen spreads the word of inter-species friendship to a local elementary school and leaves a gift of a large format picture book for future reference. We were impressed by the teacher’s acceptance of our presentation of inter-species friendship, and her enthusiasm to make it top news in “this week’s newsletter”. Not many families, and (I think) zero fathers take part in the tradition of ‘morning storytelling’. They’re all too busy. Hopefully the positive write up will encourage them to take a morning off from their work.
The book itself is a one-off production – a quickly printed out selection of S.C.R.O.T.U.M’s Animal Architecture submission with Jess Mantell, and Jared’s “Making Friends” photo montage. We were inspired by the enthusiasm of the children and their incisive questions, especially “so what part of the body does the female tanuki use to make friends?”. We are now in an ongoing (and legal) study with this bright 8 year old girl.
It is a custom in Tokyo and perhaps throughout Japan to have cherry trees at schools, from elementary to universities. Cherry blossoms occur just as the new school year is beginning.
Above is a beautiful row of cherry trees at Nodai, alongside the new playing field. Below is the elementary school near our apartment.
Unlike hanami parties, seeing sakura at schools occurs throughout the city and during the normal course of your day, while walking, commuting, or going to class or school events. At Nodai, I was heading to a party at the Garden Laboratory marking the new school year. The school I pass often on my way to the JR station.