Explore Japan

A Cultural and Educational Experience for Grade 10 High School Students in the Greater Edmonton Area
Held on October 26, 2010

1.    Program Objective - What is the “Explore Japan”?

The program provides an opportunity for Grade 10 students in the greater Edmonton area to explore Japanese culture at first hand. Through a variety of activities facilitated by Japanese community members, the program will enhance the understanding of Japanese culture by the Edmonton youth and promote friendship between Japan and Canada. High school Japanese programs will greatly benefit by participating in the event.

2.      Background

The Edmonton Japanese Community Association (EJCA) has been promoting Japanese culture and language in the Edmonton areas. Since 2002, it has been providing the “Japan Today” program to junior high schools as a Grade 8 Social module supplement.

In May 2010, EJCA Culture Programs Committee received an inquiry from the Alberta Japanese Teachers Association (AJTA) if cultural presentation to Grade 10 students who would start studying Japanese Language and Culture in September could be organized by EJCA.

After some research activities, the first Steering Committee meeting was held on August 7, 2010, and a decision was made to proceed with the plan.

3.      Date/time: Tuesday October 26, 2010 9:00 – 3:20

4.      Schools, students, teachers, and chaperon registered






Harry Ainlay High School





Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School

Red Deer




Bellerose Composite High School

St. Albert




Memorial Composite High School

Stony Plain




Spruce Grove Composite High School

Spruce Grove








5.      Program Details

a. In the homeroom

Students had a morning gathering, lunch, and waited for buses after the program was over in own homeroom.

b. In the hall with all students together

1)  Opening session
  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Keynote speech
  • Japanese Drum (Taiko) presentation 

2)  After the lunch session - Kimono Show and Japanese Dance
After lunch, all students got together in the hall and watched a Kimono Show and traditional Japanese dances. 


c. In the classrooms and the hall

1)  Modern Japan    
A third year Grant MacEwan University student who was in Japan for one year as an exchange student told his experience in Japan using slide pictures. He talked about modern Japan, technology, and life styles, particularly of young people. 

2)  Flower Arrangements and Tea Ceremony
The room was prepared in the tearoom settings with flower arrangements. After an explanation of flower arrangements and a tea ceremony, students watched the ceremony. Then, Japanese sweets and tea were served to all students. 

3)   Calligraphy
After students appreciated professional calligraphies displayed on the wall, the presenters explained calligraphy and tools. Students practiced a few kanji using samples and made one good copy. Some students made their own name cards in Japanese.  

4)  Kimono and Origami
All students tried Yukata (casual summer Kimono). Two spots with Japanese shoji screens and cherry blossom trees were set for photo shooting. Traditional Japanese music was played as background sound. At the origami workshop, students took a close look at samples first, then, they made their own origami.

5)  Karate and Kimono Workshop
Taiko workshop: Presenters explained about Taiko, then, demonstrated key techniques. All students had a turn for drumming a Taiko.
Karate workshop: Instructors guided students into the “Karate world” including trials.
Both Taiko and Karate demonstrated the Japanese way of behavior, i.e. politeness, concentration, and respect. Students were introduced to these values while they enjoyed practicing Taiko and Karate.

6.      Student Handout

Handout bags were prepared.

    • Individual student’s time schedule printed in group’s color paper
    • Student’s name tag in group’s color
    • Instruction sheet of activities
    • Quiz sheet (There was one quiz for each session. The quiz will be used back in Japanese language class.)
    • Feed back form

7.      Donations - Gift bags to schools

Various door prizes donated by the sponsors were distributed to schools as gifts so that teachers could use the prizes at Japanese classesStudent Handout.

8.       Facility Information

The Institute of Innovation in Second Language Education (iisle) at Woodcroft School, 13750 Woodcroft Avenue, Edmonton.


9.      1.      Summary of feedback

Students’ feedback (135 responses from 5 schools)

a)      Overall satisfaction:

Very satisfied                                                    (74)      

Somewhat satisfied                                           (40)     

Between Very satisfied and Somewhat satisfied   (1)

Somewhat dissatisfied                                       (4)      

Very dissatisfied                                                (1)      

No answer                                                        (15)     

b)      Each session/event/workshop received “Very satisfied/Somewhat satisfied from more than 90 per cent of students”.

Teachers’ feedback (5 teachers)

a)      All teachers are “Very satisfied” with the experience.

b)      All teachers marked “Excellent” as to how meaningful it was for their own Japanese-language program.

10.       Voices from teachers and students (excerpts from feedback forms)

  •  Very welcoming
  •  Well organized
  • Instructors were very nice
  • The Speech was powerful and the Taiko demo was exciting
  • Because of your presentation, I want to go to Japan
  • Fun and a great way to introduce Japanese art forms
  • Lots of meaning behind the traditions
  • ... helps us learn about Japanese culture
  • Cool, artistic and creative
  • Fun and interactive
  •  …challenging, but fun
  • It was fun and educational
  • I found the whole experience informative and engaging
  • It has inspired me to learn more about Japan
  • I will be looking forward to it next year
  • It made me very enthusiastic about going to Japan
  •  … made me feel all immersed in culture and everything
  • It was really helpful to understand Japanese culture. I really want to recommend to my friends
  • This program was very good. I want my friend to know more about Japan
  •  …it’s really good to see and feel Japanese culture
  • [found the following most fascinating]…respect towards others, and the significance of their language
  • Really enjoyed myself and I believe my students also really enjoyed themselves too!
  • The presenters had prepared the activities very well
  • An excellent way of seeing the subtleties of Japanese culture
Aya Okamoto,
May 5, 2011, 10:02 PM