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 Japan
■Field Trip to Tono for Children from Otsuchichou! (2011/08/10)

At KnK, immediately following the earthquake disaster, we began cooperating with the Board of Education and local schools in the affected areas to start support activities in order for students’ lives to return to normal as quickly as possible. 
Since the middle of April, coastal schools in Iwate Prefecture have gradually been reopening, and by the end of July most schools were able to resume summer vacation (with the intention to begin the new school year on time). 
However, as a result of school campuses and schoolyards being used for temporary housing, space for children to play and move around is scarce. As a result, this change in environment only increases children’s stress.

Because of this, KnK plans to support outings and activities for affected children, and the other day we took the first step in Otsuchichou by supporting a field trip for the students of the area.

On this field trip, the fourteen students who participated were elementary students between first and third grade.  As well, five staff members from kids club and two participants from KnK chaperoned the field trip. 

Carrying a large backpack, the chaperones and students rode a bus to inland Tono City’s  “Tono Furusato Village.”


The purpose of this field trip was to learn about how to make soba noodles by pounding the noodles and to learn about Tono’s folklore.

At the beginning, the children learned how to make soba.

First, the students mixed flour with water and rolled out the dough until flat. Then they cut the dough into thin strips and to finish, boiled the dough, creating soba noodles!


 
 
 

It was the children’s first experience making soba, which they enjoyed a lot. 
The soba they made was served for lunch.



Continuing on, after lunch the children listened to Tono folklore from an old storyteller who had learned the stories handed down within her family.
In Tono, there are mythical creatures such as kappas (water spirits) and “zashikiwarashi,” which are guardian spirits with red faces and short hair common in folklore in the Tohoku region. Japanese traditional ghost stories and mysteries usually take place in famous locations. In Tono, the elderly have grown up listening to these stories from when they were small children.
“In folklore instead of being merely scary or mysterious, the stories also have a lesson or moral.  Before going to school, children can learn rules naturally through these stories,” the storyteller taught the children.  Because in Furusato Village there is still a lot of nature untouched, lined with traditional houses and nostalgic scenery, folklore spreads easily in such a quaint village.


 

Understanding how important this traditional culture is, one child said, “it’s a good thing the tsunami didn’t come here.”
To the children living in greatly damaged areas of Otsuchichou, it will be impossible to completely forget the tsunami disaster.  However, for the children who went on this field trip, as well as for the teachers who chaperoned, the field trip provided a break from their everyday routine, a chance to get out and get some fresh air, and to do something fun for a day.
From our experience on this fieldtrip, at KnK we will strive to plan more outings and leisure activities for the children as well as families and surrounding adults of the area.


 
 
 
Nonprofit Organization Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi (KnK)
4-3-22 ShimoOchiai Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 161-0033 Japan
Tel:03-6279-1126  Fax:03-6279-1127
E-mail: kodomo@knk.or.jp URL: www.knk-network.org
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