Amezaiku Candies

By Katie Nguyen

Amezaiku is a Japanese candy craft artistry made from a sugar that is made from rice or potato starch. It is heated to about 90 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The artist must then put their hands in the mixture, the mixture must not be too soft or too hard, and the artist must bear the heat it gives off. The artist then shapes the mixture onto a stick and can use tools such as traditional Japanese scissors, called “Wa-Basami” or “Nigiri-Basami,” paint brushes, and food coloring to shape and paint the candy into a figure. Amezaiku candies are usually formed into an animal so that they can appeal to children.

Here are some people making Amezaiku:

https://youtu.be/g6FosltlFoo

https://youtu.be/SfyBMG0XSk0

https://youtu.be/wkLKb2Ebvdw

Amezaiku was first introduced during the Heian period as an offering for temples in Kyoto; in the Edo period, it became widely available. However, although it has been passed down for many generations, it has started to be in decline. One of the artists, Shinri Tezuka, at 27 years old, is one of the youngest people still practicing making amezaiku. He was self-taught and makes lots of animal amezaikus, like gold fishes, frogs, octopuses, and many more, hoping to inspire the next generation of candy crafter to keep the tradition alive. This makes me feel really disappointed that such a beautiful piece of artwork is in decline, because not a lot of people want to make amezaiku, although they are so fascinated about it. If you are ever in Japan and want some amezaiku, please go to his store in Tokyo, Japan. You can also do workshops that teach you how to make amezaiku.

If you want some more information about this go to the website http://www.ame-shin.com/en/.

Sharing appreciation

Before winter break, we asked students to take time to express appreciation or recognize the accomplishments of one or two of their Japanese Plus classmates. The results:

Angel: Asa, thanks for always having a smile on your face. It’s really nice talking to you. You make the learning environment brighter.

Maria: I like how Angel tries hard and takes lead of our group. I also appreciate how both Carlos and Luis did the performance the other day alone.

Cyrus: I like hearing Alexx and Theo’s Japanese, because it sounds close to what I’ve heard in media.

Asa: I’m thankful for the encouragement of Lucca for helping me practice and also Che for being the person to help lighten the mood and make me laugh.

Chetachukwu: Carlos is a nice and funny person. It is really helpful and helps me grow educationally. Asa is a funny soul and I like her skirts.

Alexx: I’d like to thank Che for always being on point. She did a lot for our group and was really responsible. I’m glad I have her in my group. I’m also thankful for Gabe who always works really hard. He inspires me to push myself even harder.

Gabe: Jonah, keeping the class always positive and giving heartfelt thanks to visitors. Alexx, for helping a ton in my group, especially during the skit.

Jazmin: I would like to thank Theo and Elena for helping me a lot when learning my katakana. They always make me laugh, and I’m glad to have them in my group.

Katie: I’m really happy that Asa is here with me since she told me about this program and that she’s been with me this whole entire time, even if I am annoying to her. I’m also really happy that Jazmin is here since I can ask her about Japan since she has been there and that she is someone I know who can be there for me.

Jonah: Carlos is very optimistic and a good friend always willing to help. Kenny seems to always want to learn and never bummed and is fun.

Arjernae: I’m proud of Alayshia for being dedicated and not quitting even with people telling her to. I’m proud of Cyrus because he’s one of the few people I see and he acknowledges me when I come to class. Also he’s becoming more open and not as shy as he was in the beginning.

Theo: Jazmin is a very hard worker and I really respect her drive. Alexx has a strong grasp on the language and I find her very impressive in general.

What are you most proud of?

Before winter break, we asked our Japanese Plus students to reflect on their time in the program so far, and to share what they felt most proud of. Here are they answers:

Angel: I’m proud of the onigiri that I made and improving in katakana.

Maria: I am most proud of the self-introductions we have learned.

Cyrus: I guess just being able to talk to new people and not be a complete mess.

Asa: I’m most proud of me mastering katakana but mostly gaining more courage to speak out and meet new people.

Che: The fact that I memorized all my katakana. I know most of my combinations.

Alexx: I’m most proud of my speaking abilities in terms of public speaking. I’m not very good at speaking loud and clear, so I’ve been really happy with how far I’ve come.

Gabe: I went from knowing one Japanese word to being able to introduce myself and knowing katakana.

Jazmin: I’m most proud of my speaking skills, because I’ve improved a lot since the last time Eshita sensei taught me some phrases when I was in “Japan in DC.”

Katie: I’m really proud that we finished learning katakana and mastering it. I really thought it would take a long time to learn.

Jonah: Learning katakana and meeting with new people.

Arjernae: Learning basic Japanese is what I am most proud of (katakana, introduction, writing).

Theo: Probably the feeling of mastery over a different alphabetical system to the point that I recognize meaning relatively quickly.

Sackler Museum Art

By Katie Nguyen

My favorite art piece in the Sackler museum was a Diorama Map of Tokyo. I really like how it is in black and white and the way I can see everything in a bird’s eye view. This art piece was really big and detailed so you can go up close and see actual people and buildings. This was actually created by Ino Tadataka by taking pictures all around Tokyo, printing them out on a sheet, cutting them up, and assembling them into a single composition. If you come up close to the art piece, you can actually see where he cut up parts of Japan, and it is so amazing that he took up most of his time making such a wonderful art piece and how everything looked so natural.

#OnigiriAction

By Katie Nguyen

Onigiri Action is a program to help needy kids in Africa get free healthy meals by taking pictures of yourself with the onigiri (rice balls) you made and posting them online with the hashtag #OnigiriAction. This was created by a non-profit organization, called Table for Two, that speaks about the issues of hunger and obesity through a “meal sharing” program. Table for Two partners with many organizations such as JCCI NY, Zojirushi America Corporation, Tokyo Central Marukai, MUFG, BentOn, and many more. If you want to read more about this, go to their website https://onigiri-action.com/en/about/ to learn all about it.

During the presentation about Onigiri Action, I was really excited to make onigiri and I bet everybody else was too. At first, when Mayumi Uejima-Carr, the Table for Two director, and the instructor she brought in showed up, I was really nervous since they had come early and most people didn’t arrive yet. Mayumi Uejima-Carr brought in her two kids and they were really cute and fun to be with.

Once they had finished their presentation, we learned how to make onigiri. It looked easy, but it wasn’t. I put too much rice and made a really big onigiri. We had to decorate our onigiri and make it look nice. Everybody had cool and pretty designs. A person made Jack Skellington from The Night Before Christmas, while somebody else made Sailor Moon. It was really fun and was a nice bonding moment with my classmates. It was also really delicious. There were ingredients like tuna with mayo, ketchup, edamame beans, spices, carrots, rice, seaweed, and bear molds to make your rice the shape of a bear. Afterwards we took pictures of everybody’s onigiri and had group pictures. There were also big onigiri cutouts made of cardboard that we could put out heads in so when others wore it they looked cute in the photo.

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