Thomas Street Elementary students experience Japanese culture

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Kindergartners at Thomas Street Elementary School did not have to leave their campus to tour Japan on Friday.
Those students have been studying the Asian nation throughout the year. On Friday, the mothers of several of the school’s Japanese students hosted an event that provided a variety of the country’s cultural experiences.
Students made and ate rice balls. They created origami, wrote in Japanese script and played traditional games of the island nation. They also toured a display in the school’s auditorium with several Japanese artifacts.
“We want to expose them to other cultures,” said kindergarten teacher Kathy Bondurant. “We have a lot of students who may not get to travel.
“We want them to be exposed to the fact that everyone is not just like they are, but we have a lot in common.”
The Japanese games included kanba, in which students tried to walk while standing on and moving two cans connected to a string. They also played fukuwarai, in which a blindfolded competitor had to place features like a mouth, nose and eyes upon a picture of a face by following the verbal directions of classmates.
One of the mothers who helped coordinate the event was Rika Okamoto.
“The reaction of the children is really cute and lovely,” she said. “My son is in kindergarten here. It is very good for me to introduce my son’s country to his friends.”
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com