Japanese culture shared at event

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

BATH — Japan’s culture was shared with area youngsters Tuesday during a Past Times day camp hosted by Historic Bath State Historic Site.
Liz Shinohara and her sons, Takumi and Satoru, were guests during the event. The family resides in Bath.
The program focused on immigration and how residents from other countries have chosen to make America their home, said Bea Latham, historical interpreter and assistant site manager.
Liz Shinohara, an American, moved to Japan where she met and married a Japanese citizen.
The family discussed the Japanese alphabet and helped the young campers write their names in Japanese. The Japanese alphabet has many more letters than Americans are used to learning, Shinohara said.
“Someone told me that in order to graduate from school in Japan, you have to learn about 1,800 letters,” she said. “But you have to know 2,200 letters to read a Japanese newspaper.”
The Shinoharas talked about attending school in Japan and some of the customs of the country, including the celebration of Children’s Day. As a craft project, the youngsters made their flying fish similar to those flown at homes in Japan on Children’s Day.
In addition, each young camper went home with instructions and special paper to create a Japanese origami crane.
The campers also learned about Ellis Island, for years the first stop for newly arrived immigrants in America. There, Latham said, the immigrants’ health, background and education would be studied.
“It was very important that they registered all those people,” Latham noted.
If immigrants possessed special skills, such as sewing or shoe-making, officials would help them gain employment, the children learned.
To illustrate that last point, Latham read a book about a young girl who left her native village to seek a new life in the United States.
“When Jessie Came Across the Sea” told the story of the girl, who worked as a lace-maker and assistant to a dressmaker to save enough money to bring her grandmother to America.
Latham also spoke of the role the Statue of Liberty played in welcoming immigrants to their new home. The statue was built by a French sculptor as a gift to America, and the project took nine years to complete, she said.
“The seven spikes, or rays, on Lady Liberty’s crown represent the seven continents and seven seas of the world,” Latham told the campers. “The statue was also a lighthouse from 1886 to 1902, and its light could be seen 24 miles away.”
The next Past Times day camp is scheduled for July 13 and will focus on life as a child in colonial times, according to Latham.
For more information about Past Times events, call the Historic Bath Visitors Center at 252-923-3971.