Japanese - Term 4, 2020

Musubi Exhibition: The Bonds We Share
2020 NZJEP Recipient Amy Couling

Photos (Left to Right): Photo 1: Yoko Couling (Amy Couling's mother) and Amy Couling (Visual Artist), Photo 2: Opening night at the Exhibition.  Photo by Tim Lomax.

My name is Amy Couling and I am a New Zealand/Japanese visual artist based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. I had the honour of being chosen as a NZJEP recipient this year and I successfully completed my first solo exhibition called Musubi thanks to the generosity of Future Learning Solutions.

Musubi means a knot in Japanese. It also means the connections and bonds between people. In Shintoism, Japan’s ancient religion, musubi is the power of becoming or creation.

Physically, musubi means to tie something, such as tying the obi sash on a kimono. O-musubi is a handmade rice ball that my obāchan (grandma) used to make for me when we visited Japan. Musubi is the invisible thread that ties family, friends and true love together; the threads of fate that also tie me to you.”

Musubi was held in The Pūmanawa Gallery in The Christchurch Arts Centre | Te Matatiki Toi Ora. It was a beautiful, historic venue and I liked the juxtaposition of having Japanese themed artwork in a traditionally British building. The exhibition presented all of my major works to date including handmade and screen printed kimono, porcelain pieces hand thrown on the potter’s wheel and painted portraits of Japanese women wearing kimono.

My Japanese mother has an extensive collection of kimono at home, which may have inspired my passion for Japan’s national garment. I love celebrating the beauty, history and artistry of kimono in my work and I hoped to bring the garment into a modern context in my exhibition so the audience of today could also appreciate it.

The opening night was held on 18 August and it was a great success. My mother and I dressed in kimono and other Japanese women that we knew also turned up wearing kimono which was a great surprise. It was a rare sight to see so many gorgeous kimono clad women at an event in Christchurch and it matched the kimono theme of my exhibition perfectly.

There was a shaky moment in the week leading up to my exhibition when we had the second outbreak of Coronavirus in Auckland. They were suddenly put into lockdown Level 3 while the rest of the country was put into Level 2. I was very nervous that we would also be bumped up to Level 3 over the weekend, which would mean that my whole exhibition would be cancelled - but thank goodness it didn’t come to that!

Thank you again to Kath Doody and her team at Future Learning Solutions.

If you’re interested in my work please visit https://www.amycouling.com/

Japanese Immersion Camp in Springfield for Darfield High School Students!

皆さん、こんにちは Minasan Konnichiwa

This year, we planned to visit our sister cities in Japan. However this trip had to be cancelled (we all know why). So, I was looking for something to enable my students to have an experience of Japanese culture.

Smylies Accommodation in Springfield turned out to be the best solution for us! The owners of the accommodation, Colin and Keiko Pander, speak fluent Japanese.
When you walk into the accommodation, you notice lots of things that you would see in Japan. As you arrive there, you need to put your shoes into getabako げたばこ (shoe cabinet) and sit on zabuton ざぶとん(cushion on the floor), and there are many Japanese manga まんが (comic books) and so on. You can feel the Japanese influence immediately as you walk into the building. It is an ideal place for our students to learn about Japanese culture and language.

For me as a teacher, the best part of immersion camp was seeing the moments of joy for each student: one student loved reading manga まんが, one student enjoyed watching a sumo すもう match, one student tried using ohashi おはし(chopsticks) for the first time, one student gave ohuro おふろ (Japanese-style bath) a go, and the list goes on. I also saw lovely interactions between Year 13 students and Year 11 students; they did not really know each other before but they had good Senpai and Kohai せんぱいとこうはい time (the senior students looked after the junior students). The Japanese international students also got along with the Kiwi students. 

Photos (Left and Right): Students playing bingo in Japanese

Photo (Left): Students having Japanese breakfast and (Right): Students playing hiragana card game called karuta かるた

One of my Year 12 students, Niamh Guy was excited to share her experience of her first Japanese Immersion Camp with the whole school via our October
school newsletter, too!  See a copy of the article below:

Although we could not go to Japan, this immersion camp provided something valuable for our students. Also, some were not financially able to afford to go to Japan, but Springfield is more affordable. I was also glad to be able to organize this immersion experience for our students and supporting the local business at the same time. I would like to organise it again, and thank Colin and Keiko very much for understanding the purpose of the immersion camp and allowing the students an opportunity to study Japanese and the Japanese culture.

Article by Sumi Hayakawa-Buist (Japanese Teacher, GROW participant for two consecutive years - 2019, 2020)