Updated Apr 13, 2023
Goal: To learn about Girl Scouts in Japan, Japanese customs and celebrations
Indoor Zen Garden
Enjoy your unit’s usual Opening. Discuss Japan and Girl Scouts in Japan. What does your group already know about Japan?
Answers: Japan is a country of islands (called an archipelago) along the Pacific coast of East Asia. Whereas Italy is roughly shaped like a boot, Japan’s 6852 islands collectively make up the shape of a seahorse. (Refer to map). The capital city of Japan is Tokyo. Japan has an ancient history and many time honoured traditions to go along with it. In Japan there is a holiday, festival or seasonal celebration for almost every month of the year. There are many people of Japanese heritage who now live in Canada.
Girl Guides of Japan was established in 1920 and became known as Girl Scouts of Japan in 1949. Girl Scouts of Japan became full members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1960. Pathfinders are called Seniors and Rangers are also called Rangers. Look up this link online to see what their uniforms and enrollment pin look like: http://www.girlscout.or.jp/contents/wp-content/themes/girlscout/english/documen/uniform.pdf The Japanese Senior and Ranger motto is “be prepared.” Their law is:
Japanese gardens, known as Zen gardens, are spaces designed for meditation and contemplation. Their origins date back to the very ancient beginnings of Japanese culture. Not a single aspect of a Japanese garden is natural or wild. On the contrary, they are highly stylized and controlled areas. Zen gardens primarily consist of cultivated rocks and sand, with lots of open space. Sand is meant to symbolize water in a Zen garden, while rocks symbolize mountains, islands or obstacles. Very few actual plantings exist and each plant that does is chosen and maintained according to specific artistic ideologies. For example, trees are trimmed in a particular way to create certain desired shapes.
Zen gardens are the inspiration for today’s craft. Miniature sand gardens are decorative and they also release stress as you "play in the sand" and create designs. Raking patterns in the sand around the stones is a peaceful activity; it relaxes the “gardener” by eliminating other thoughts from his or her mind.
Printout of the shell for the Kai-awase craft. Cut it out and draw a picture on the "inside" of the shell.
Kai-awase is very similar to our game of Concentration. "Kai" means "shell" and "awase" translates to "joining" or "matching." It has been played by nobles in Japan since the 12th century. A full, traditional kai-awase set contains 360 pairs of shells. The 720 individual shells all look the same on the outside, but on the inside there are beautiful hand painted images.
Take turns turning over two shells at a time and looking at their pictures. If the hidden pictures match, the player gets to keep the two shells and receives a second turn. However, if they don’t match, the shells must be turned over again and it is the next player’s turn. Continue until all the pairs have been found. The person with the most sets wins.
See how many traditional Japanese foods your group can name. What type of utensil was traditionally used for eating?
Answers: Sticky rice, tempura, sushi, fish and seafood, pickled/salted vegetables, udon and soba noodles, nori (seaweed), miso soup, green tea and sake are just a few examples of traditional Japanese cuisine.
Chopsticks are the traditional Japanese eating utensil.
Option One: Serve dry roasted edamamne beans and/ or mixed Japanese rice crackers, available anywhere mixed nuts are sold. They have an addicting taste and crunch.
Option Two: If there is a kitchen available, make “Kashiwa Mochi” (rice flour cakes.) They are traditionally served on Children’s Day in Japan. Children’s Day is a national holiday celebrated on May 5th (the fifth day of the fifth month of the year). Rice flour cakes are a sweet and sticky treat, perfect for children!
Makes 8 portions
1 can of azuki beans (sweet red beans)
1 ½ cups of mochi or shiratamako rice flour (sweet rice flour) -substitute regular rice flour if
sweet is unavailable and add granulated white sugar
1 ¼ cups of water
Congratulate the group on learning about culture, holiday festivals and Girl Scouts in Japan. Enjoy your regular Closing.
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