Japanese Culture Summer Camps for Teens

Written by lucy mcgregor
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Japanese Culture Summer Camps for Teens
Elements of Japanese culture include Taiko, Origami, Ikebana and Shodo. (Japan doll image by Dmitry Sosenushkin from Fotolia.com)

Even if you cannot go to Japan it is still possible to surround yourself with its culture by attending a Japanese summer camp in the US. There are options to attend uniquely different camps all over the United States. Some of them teach just Japanese drumming art, while others offer a more general overview of Japanese culture. While most allow teens to take part, some are just available to teens purely as a volunteering project.

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Grass Valley Taiko, Sierra

St Joseph's cultural centre in the historic Grass Valley organises a Taiko camp in September during which Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka will teach you the modern technique of Tokyo-style Sukeroku Taiko in collaboration with the San Francisco Dojo. This involves body and movement classes centred on Taiko, which is the art of Japanese drumming. It originated in the 1950s and has since spread across the world. Taiko developed from a variety of religious rituals and folk traditions and popular entertainments. It is also possible to learn to speak Japanese at this Dojo by hiring a local instructor.

Japan Camp in Milton, Massachusetts

This camp is held for two weeks with a visiting group of Japanese students. While the Japanese students study English, American students will learn Japanese culture and language. This includes morning classes on Japanese arts and crafts, cooking and language. In the afternoon the Japanese students and hosts will go on afternoon trips to places of cultural interest, like the Boston Museum of Science. The course is provided for girls and boys ages eight to 16. Activities may teach them about origami, the paper craft and Ikebana, flower arrangement. Shodo (calligraphy) will also be taught along with the poem form haiku and tanka.

Summer Camp in Washington D.C

This camp is different in that it is tailored around Japanese families who want to learn more about their own culture. There is a summer camp for children with volunteer opportunities for teens to take part. Educational guidance is offered for Japanese families who are unsure of the American educational system and cultural events like field trips take place to American sites of cultural interest. During the summer camp activities will take place predominantly outdoors like water-play, suika-wari, hiking, Japanese summer festival games and dancing. Activities in the evening will include brush painting, calligraphy and origami. Teen volunteer counsellors also socialise with each other outside of camp and have the opportunity to improve their Japanese as all communication will be conducted in Japanese.

Michigan State University Summer Camp

This camp is for children ages seven to 14 and takes place on campus. The four-day camp introduces children and teens to Japanese culture and knowledge of Japanese language is not necessary. Children with higher proficiency in the language however will be catered for. The curriculum is based on aspects like animals, town life, friends, fruit and vegetables--which are connected to objects the children will see on site, like the animals at the local museum. Games and hands-on learning take place and certain camps each have a motto to them, for example the motto "Circus" or "Knights, Castles and Princesses."

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