Samaris, Anime, and Japanese Culture

* This post contains images of raw dead fish. Those who can not stomach raw dead fish should discontinue reading now. *

It all started with a simple enough request. A Facebook status on my husband’s personal profile, “would anyone be willing to host a Flat Stanley for LittleMan?”

A friend, someone who had served in the Army with my husband, offered to host. They were stationed in Japan at the time. How exciting!
And the pictures they sent did not disappoint. We had a lot of fun reading online about the history of the areas in which the pictures were taken. Best of all, LittleMan took a real interest in learning about maps and where different places were.
Flat Stanley in Japan

One fun activity that is fairly common when early elementary school (and even preschoolers) are learning about Japanese culture is to practice Gyotaku, which is the ancient art of fish printing.
Japanese art of Gyotaku (3)
In case you’ve never heard of Gyotaku, this quick video clip will explain the basics.

Now proper Gyotaku requires a fish with a head and all its fins in tact. Generally the fins are spread out and pinned in place.
Because this activity was meant to be more of a conversation starter and a sensory experience for my children, I didn’t stress out too much over proper materials or technique. We went with what was most handy (frozen fish with the heads removed, washable finger paints).
Japanese art of Gyotaku (1)
I merely taped down some construction paper to the table and let them have at it.
They started out applying the paint to one side of the fish with their fingers.
Once they were satisfied with the paint application, they flipped the fish over and pressed it to the paper.
Japanese art of Gyotaku (2)
In the beginning the fish were rigid and didn’t produce very nice prints. After they had thawed a bit from handling, the prints weren’t half bad at all.
Japanese art of Gyotaku (7)
This was process art at its finest, and so some images to show the process are due.
Japanese art of Gyotaku (4) Japanese art of Gyotaku (5) Japanese art of Gyotaku (6) Japanese art of Gyotaku (8)

This post has been part of The ABCs of Raising Well-Rounded Geeklings series.

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4 Comments to Samaris, Anime, and Japanese Culture

  1. Wow, you learn something everyday. I never heard of this type of art, not sure I would personally try it, but neat to learn about.

    • suzyhomeschooler says:

      It was a tiny bit smelly but the kiddos had a ton of fun with it. I’d be willing to do it again sometime.

  2. Ashley says:

    I have to be honest, I almost stopped reading at the first sentence! YUCK! Luckily they didn’t have their heads; that would have been the end of me! Looks like they had a good time though!

    • suzyhomeschooler says:

      Thats exactly why I put the warning in the first sentence, I don’t want anyone to see anything they don’t want to see.

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