Third-graders at F.E. Bellows Elementary School – who had been studying about the culture, geography, food, history and sports of Japan as part of their curriculum –participated in the annual Japan Day on May 26.

Throughout the day, the students immersed themselves into the Japanese culture by participating in a number of hands-on activities and workshops, including traditional food, origami, calligraphy, martial arts and more. They learned about the significance of kimonos, understood what people say before and after a meal and discussed what school is like for students in Japan. They also practiced calligraphy and wrote a Japanese word with a brush and ink and made their own “Kabuto” helmets. 

“[Japan Day] is meant as a cultural understanding of the Japanese culture and to provide the students with an appreciation and a greater comprehension,” said Ann Cullagh, a third-grade teacher and team leader. “We can appreciate our differences but celebrate the things that bind us.”

The celebration, which is deeply connected to the third-grade curriculum, was made possible thanks to parent volunteers and members of the Japanese community, who provided insight into numerous Japanese traditions. 

“The day is meaningful and it really has an impact [on students],” Cullagh said. “It’s meant to give them exposure and appreciation [of the Japanese culture].”