From the Azuki Foundation’s inception, its core workshop series has focused on Japanese art forms which are fun to do and which promote both well-being and interest in the culture of Japan.
We recently offered a three- weeks tea bowl making workshops and tea ceremony session for young people in Islington and Camden in collaborated with Skip Garden and with UAL: Central Saint Martins’ Ceramics department.
In the past, we offered a series of Japanese folk dance workshop for older people led by a folk dance expert Yasuna Higuma at the Claremont project, St. Lukes Community Centre, and Alsen Day Centre from September 2016 to January 2017.
Japanese home cooking classes for the community were initiated in 2015 held at the stylish Central Street Cookery School, and the most recent series led by Atsuko’s Kitchen and Noriko Tanaka January—March 2017 concluded with great success.
We have also held more of our popular Japanese folk dance classes in which participants learn diverse styles of dance and create their own original choreography. These classes have been led by qualified masters and have included Otedama (Japanese bean bag juggling) and Ayatori (an artistic version of the game ‘cat’s cradle’). All these activities require co-ordination, concentration, precision and social interaction (although they can be performed alone as well as in groups).
Bon Dance is a traditional Japanese community dance practiced by young and old of both sexes. It is based on simple, elegant, slow and smooth movements to music. Bon dancing provides modest physical exercise for groups of people promoting social contact and health.
Otedama is rhythmic throwing and catching of a cloth bag containing beans. It involves gentle stylised movements and can be performed in groups. Otedama promotes concentration and coordination as the correct body posture is important to accomplish the movements required.
Ayatori involves modifying a loop of string into various shapes and images and may be thought of as a more artistic version of the western children’s game of cat’s cradle. It can be undertaken individually or in groups. It requires concentration and manipulation of the fingers. Although there are thousands of established patterns, participants can use their own imaginations to create new forms thus allowing scope for creativity.
© Japan Ayatori Association.
Dr Mayumi Hayashi (Leverhulme early career fellow at King’s College London) The Guardian, 11 June 2013.