Japanese - Term 1, 2020

Japanese Immersion Programme - Japan Foundation Sydney Seminar, January 2020

The 2019/20 Christmas break was spent watching news of record temperatures and the spread of bush fires across South Eastern Australia while revising my Japanese in the hopes that the fires would be brought under control and the Japanese Immersion experience would go ahead as planned.

Happily for many thousand Australian residents and homeowners and 14 Japanese teachers from Australia and New Zealand, rain arrived, the fires began to retreat and a most remarkable language and teaching course began.

Firstly, the coordinators welcomed our group who had come from South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and of course New Zealand to set the scene for how we would use Japanese for almost the entirety of the course. This was something they skillfully managed to facilitate across lessons, workshops and even break times.

Our programme was packed with useful activities for the whole three and a half days. We started by doing presentations to share resources which were then uploaded to a file sharing site called Edmondo for later use, I have used several of these since the course. Many thanks to my colleagues for sharing! This was followed by a Japanese test in order to place us into language learning at appropriate levels.

As someone who has studied Japanese independently for many years, I was incredibly impressed with the enthusiasm and skill of the JLF Coordinators in running these classes and it made me wish I had found classes to join sooner. This culminated in Japanese interviews on the third day, which initially nerve wracking, was actually a great way to validate what we knew. 

Other sessions were held to familiarise us with the resources available on the JLF website and a look at a wide range of other programs and apps available on the World Wide Web. We covered a lot of ground in this session and once again this was documented and made available to be revised afterward. We also took an in depth look at use of Japanese instruction to cover a theme included in the Australian curriculum which was sustainability. This was an interesting opportunity to look at the idea of not just teaching languages in isolation, but rather in another context.

We also had sessions on cultural aspects to Japanese study such as Calligraphy and Furoshiki wrapping and a tour of book shops selling Japanese teaching resources. These were enjoyed by all. 

I would like to thank the staff at the Sydney branch of JLF for their humour enthusiasm and expertise. The course was enjoyable and very useful. I would like to thank the other teachers who attended for their collegiality and enthusiasm also. Particular thanks to the other Kiwi teacher, Steve for his ideas, travel stories and translations. I feel that having a mix of Australians and New Zealanders together generates wide ranging discussions about issues important to language teachers. Also on behalf of the Kiwi contingent, big thanks also to Kath Doody at Future Learning Solutions for her support in planning the trip and keen interest in how it was going. Steve and I both valued her involvement and interest most highly.

I hope to do this again and can’t recommend it enough!!

Simon Richardson, James Hargest College

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Photos left to right: Photo 1 - Simon Richardson trying out caligraphy and Photo 2 - Simon Rirchardson (James Hargest College) and Steven Woollaston (Elim Christian College) with their completion certificates


“Uku Auaha”: The Melting Pots of New Zealand and Japan by 2019 NZJEP Recipients Kumiko Jacolin and Dennitza Gabrakova

We wish to thank NZJEP for generously supporting our project which has unlocked a space of deep and nuanced understanding between Aotearoa and Japan.

Our project explores the influence of Japanese creative sensibilities on the spiritual perceptions and transformations underpinning ceramic art practice in New Zealand. We focused on person-to-person exchange as an embodiment of intercultural communication in the social, cultural and diplomatic contexts of ceramic art history. We believe that personal exchange is a key in building frameworks for cultural exchange accommodating differences in norms, interests and positions.  

James Greig (1936-1986), an eminent New Zealand potter whose creative life was marked by the world of Japanese ceramics, will be featured as a case study. Greig’s intellectual quests culminated in a project he conceived of compiling; an illustrated biography of Japanese potter Kanjiro Kawai (1890-1966), whereas the visual/plastic expression of his artwork unleashes an energy that transcends boundaries. 

Our choice on Greig’s creative interpretation of Kawai is informed by the intensity of the cross-cultural encounter and the “extraordinaire” vantage point these two artists offer into New Zealand and Japan’s ceramics culture respectively. Greig’s work pushed the limits of New Zealand’s engagement with Japan within a specific history of reception of Japanese culture. In the 1960s, Bernard Leach (1887-1979), Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) and Takeichi Kawai (1908-1989) visited New Zealand offering ceramic workshops with a great impact to local studio potters. This led to the formation of an appreciation for a “Japanese style” through the prism of this exposure. This “Japanese style” might have been an amalgamation of fragmentary technical and aesthetic resources, therefore we could point out certain unevenness or cracks in its consistency. For example, the Raku represents Japanese tea ceremony tea-bowls with the family name of the unique “chawan” maker and its style in Japan while it is just the firing "method" in Western world introduced by Paul Soldner* in the 1960s. These are two separate things; American and Japanese Raku. This is one instance of the gaps in understanding, which accompanies cross-cultural communication, yet these too are structurally embedded in the social fabric that conditions creativity. Greig moved on beyond form, colour and technique trying to understand the spiritual forces of creativity in ceramic forms that capture dynamic natural forces.

To understand what aspects of Japanese pottery are reflected in Greig’s work, historical and aesthetic clarification is required. A brief history of Japanese pottery with its different styles is necessary to identify the diverse sources of the Japanese spiritual and technical influence in New Zealand. We made two presentation-talks in 2019 (September at the Japanese embassy, November at NZ-Asia Conference http://www.nzasia.org.nz/)

We are planning to present our findings with three dimensional visual images. For this purpose, we are preparing an exhibition at the Te Auaha Gallery “New Zealand Institute of Creativity” https://www.teauaha.com/ at the end of June 2020.

*He is known as the American father of Raku. The first student of Paul Voulkos visited the Raku family for a demonstration and arranged his own technique and called it Raku.

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Olivia Kirikiri, the producer - Te Auaha Gallery with 2019 NZJEP Recipients Kumiko Jacolin and Dennitza Gabrakova