Five teachers from Japan are staying in Union County for six weeks to learn about the American education system and teach Japanese culture. On Wednesday of last week they were in Enterprise at the home school resource center in the south end of the Enterprise Food City building sharing aspects of their culture to a receptive group of 60 students and parents.
Guests of the home school program were students from the Enterprise Seventh Day Adventist School.
One popular segment of the program was the traditional Japanese tea ceremony conducted by Mikako Motomiya. The students were seated at tables and watched as Motomiya solemnly prepared, poured and served tea to four individuals, including Enterprise's Kiyomi Oliver who teaches Japanese lessons at the center and coordinated the event.
Taketoshi Tani moderated the tea ceremony to enhance the learning process. He noted that the tea was prepared individually for one person at a time to better honor each guest. Bows, too, were interspersed during the ceremony between both host and guest. It was explained that very little talking was included in the quiet ceremony.
After the four person traditional tea ceremony was completed Oliver addressed the students who each had a simple sweet and a small amount of tea before them. She instructed them how to eat the sweet in their right hand and how to hold, then turn the cup holding the tea. She explained that the tea was to be consumed in three gulps with the final gulp accompanied with a slurping noise to inform the host that the tea was appreciated.
Prior to the tea ceremony students were entertained with a question and answer period on an erasure board drafted to teach them more about Japan and Japanese culture. That was followed by a hands-on lesson in the Japanese art of origami, the art of folding paper to make flowers, animal figures and other shapes. The indoor lesson next turned to the traditional kimono and its place in the culture of Japan.
Just prior to the tea ceremony, they sang songs in Japanese about parts of the body a simple lesson in language.
Following the tea ceremony, butcher paper and black paint were disseminated among the tables and along the floor for the purpose of sharing a class in Japanese calligraphy. Everyone began the exercise by writing the word "friend" in Japanese.
The three hour program was concluded with a typical Japanese lunch of miso soup, inarizushi (a seasoned rice bowl), okonomiyaki (Japanese style pizza) and yomozi cakes of herbs with sweet beans.
The five Japanese instructors, honored by being selected to participate in the international learning program, are staying with host families in Union County. Three are teaching Japanese customs in La Grande schools and one each in Union and Cove. Three have been assigned to elementary schools and two to junior high schools.
The Wallowa County home school resource center is open as a supplement for home school education. Parents are welcome to come in and teach courses to students beyond their immediate family. Japanese, drama, beading, sewing, government, pre algebra, written composition, personal finance, science and math are some of the classes now being taught.