If you have children while living abroad, or you move with your kids to a country where a different language is spoken, how do you expose them to your native language?
One option is to join a club of people in the same situation. (Or, if there isn't a club, to start one!)
The Brighton & Hove Japanese Club runs a Saturday school for children from Japanese-speaking and bilingual families. The club exists to promote cultural exchange between Japan and the UK.
Every year they have a well-attended Open Day to celebrate the school's successes, and welcome visitors in to see what the club has to offer. And there's a LOT on offer.
I went along this year with my students again. Here's what we got up to!
The open day has two parts - workshops in the classrooms, and demonstrations and performances on the stage. The club makes really good use of the space, with lots to see and do.
We started with a calligraphy lesson, having a go at writing 春 (haru), the kanji for Spring:
Dan likes a challenge, so he wrote the most difficult kanji he could think of: 鬱 (utsu).
This character means depression, or "low spirits", which is also how you might feel after trying to write a kanji with 29 strokes!
James showing off his handiwork:
Also, this is what I look like after half an hour doing calligraphy:
Excellent GIF by David.
Local calligraphy artist Takako Higgs was there too, with a stall of Japanese goods.
When she's not doing large-scale calligraphy demonstrations or teaching calligraphy, Takako sells beautiful Japanese goods, personalised with your name in Japanese.
Next, we headed into the main hall to see some of the shows.
It was jam packed!
The organisers had to get an extra pole so their video camera could see over the crowd.
Usually my favourite bit is the second-hand book stall where I pick up something I want to read (often pretending to myself I'll use it in class...)
But I was knew I was going to Japan the following week so I didn't buy any books this year.
I did however get this adorable Anpanman cookie!
I sat on him later and squashed him, but he still tasted great.
I also got some melon pan from this cute bakery stand.
("Gu choki pan ya" is the name of the bakery from the Ghibli film Kiki's Delivery Service).
(No photo of An-an's stall I'm afraid, I was too busy chatting to Noriko, the owner, to remember to take a picture).
While eating some of the sweet Japanese treats I'd bought, we watched the manga drawing contest.
The contestants were given the name of a manga character and had to draw them. The kids could peek at the screen, but the adults had to draw from memory.
Two of the adults participating are professional manga artists, so that was fun too.
The event is presented in English and in Japanese, with speakers switching between languages.
This compere did a great job and was very funny, especially when doing the "big reveal" and having the contestants show their pictures.
We also watched a koto (Japanese harp) performance by Sakie Plunkett.
And some students had their portraits drawn by manga artists Inko and Chie Kutsuwada.
Here Inko hard at work:
And the finished result!
I always meet someone new and interesting at the Open Day, and the organisers are very friendly and welcoming.
Why don't you come along next year?
Find out more about the Brighton & Hove Japanese Club on their website (click here).
- Brighton-based manga artist Inko (Ai Takita-Lucas)
- Manga artist Chie Kutsuwada - also Brighton-based
- Takako Higgs, calligraphy artist and teacher in (you guessed it) Brighton
- Cafe an-an, Japanese cafe and wagashi (Japanese sweets) shop in Portslade