In an effort to balance both sides of samurai—the skilled fighter vs. the refined artist—I tipped the scales on the side of the stereotypical samurai, and in the process sparked a lively, and at times heated, dialogue about the glorification of war through the creation of art activities. Although the previous projects posted through the blog focus on the tools used by the samurai class in ceremonies as well as in combat, I stand by them as a way to bring history to life and engage kids in an exploration of Japanese art, culture and history, and provide a launching point for a larger, more thoughtful discussion about war and violence (and pacifism, the anti-war movement and critical thinking)…
In hindsight, I should have spent more time focusing on the artistry and craftsmanship involved in making samurai masks, armor, helmets, swords and sword guards in my blog posts. But hindsight is a funny thing, and when exploring this with the person responsible for the parody website last weekend, I was told it wouldn’t have swayed his opinion that the activities promote militarism and glorify war. I respect his position and hope the final two art activities provide a counter to the previous projects.
The next project lends a different perspective and highlights the more sophisticated nature of the samurai class. This haiku project was beautifully designed by Corinne Takara, local artist, arts educator and creator of the previously posted samurai activities. In addition to more refined pursuits like go, Noh theater, painting and tea, poetry was a common samurai endeavor. Haiku is a short poem (often a meditation on nature) consisting of three lines—5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syallables. Next time you’re outside, stop in the moment and write a hiaku about the smells, sounds and colors washing over you. Then use these instructions to write and illistrate your poem.
Leave a Reply