Class Ideas

Mr. Shingo Usami and His Short Film, "RICEBALLS"

Author:Yoko Nishimura-Parke

Topic/Goals:Communication、Connection、Food、Link with Other Subjects、Self, Family, and Friends、Social Environment


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Students read an interview article about Mr. Shingo Usami, who was introduced in Tokimeki Shuzaiki in 2020. The interview's focus is on Mr. Usami and his short film “RICEBALLS.” This interview article will give students opportunities to think about and discuss stereotyping and deepen their knowledge about rice balls. As a linguistic point, the effects of phatic expressions like "aizuchi" will draw the students' attention.


・Students will read and learn about Mr. Shingo Usami and his short film “RICEBALLS.”
・Students will write an email to Mr. Usami that includes their questions for him.
・Students will think about and discuss stereotyping around them, and examine its ill effects.
・Students will share their knowledge about rice balls in discussions.
・Students will deepen their knowledge about rice balls through research.
・Students will reflect on their own individuality by creating (or just drawing) their own unique rice balls.

Target Junior and senior high school levels
Japanese Level Intermediate
What to prepare


1. Questions to help students' comprehension

a) Name three places where Shingo has lived.

b) When did Shingo become an actor?

c) What kind of works has Shingo acted in?

d) What is the Japanese word for "rice balls"?

e) What do you know about the film "RICEBALLS"?

f) Why did Shingo decide to make his own film?

2. Discussion points

g)「いつ、はいゆうさんになりましたか」The interviewer uses "san" after the word for "actor" (はいゆう). What kind of feeling does this express?How is it different compared to「いつ、はいゆうになりましたか」?

h) Shingo says,「ステレオタイプをくずしていきたいです」. What kind of "stereotyping" do you think he wants to destroy?

i) Have you ever experienced stereotyping? How did you feel?

j) Have you ever seen rice balls? Where did you see them? How did they look?
Have you eaten rice balls? When and where did you eat them? What kind of rice balls were they? Who made them?

k) Is there any food in your country/culture that resembles rice balls? What is it? How does it resemble rice balls?

l) Let's think about "aizuchi." The interviewer uses several aizuchi. Pick out all the aizuchi used in the interview. How do you think these affect the conversation? Are there any similar phrases you use in your language?

3. Creative tasks

m) Group work: Let's make Shingo's profile
Write down the information you learned about Shingo on Post-its (one piece of information on each Post-it). Stick the Post-its onto A4 paper.

n) Do you have any questions for Shingo? Write an email to Shingo in Japanese saying as much as you can. In your email, include the following: greeting, brief self-introduction, questions, message to him, and closing remark.

o) Your original rice ball
Shingo says,「いろいろなオリジナルのおにぎりをつくります」.
If you were to make an original rice ball, what kind of rice ball would you make? Draw a picture of it and add explanations about its size, contents (what's inside), flavor, etc.
Do you think your rice ball expresses your originality? How?

p) Do some research on rice balls--their history, variations, how to make them, and so on. Do you want to try making rice balls yourself? It would be fun to make them with your family and friends.

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