Class Ideas

Bags from Tatami?

Author:Yoko Nishimura-Parke

Topic/Goals:Body and Health、Clothing and Fashion、Comparison、Daily Life、Housing、Perspective、Take Action


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Students read the interview article about Aoyanagi, a tatami maker who makes bags with tatami, and explore traditions in their own environment and how they have been passed down. Students then create a commercial or flyer for the tatami bag.


・Learn about tatami and igusa.
・Explore the traditions of the learners’ environment and how they are passed down.
・Foster creativity by making commercials and dialogues using the information obtained in the article and through research.

Target Senior high school level or higher
Japanese Level Advanced
What to prepare


1. Questions to help students' comprehension
a) What did Aoyanagi learn from his homestay with the farmers in Kumamoto?

b) How did he feel about what he learned?

c) What was the inspiration that led to his design for the Mother's Bag? What sort of news was topical at the time?

d) Why did Aoyanagi attach an igusa mat to the Mother's Bag?

e) What is Aoyanagi's idea about the future of tatami? Why does he think so?

2. Discussion points
f) Aoyanagi says, "この問題と向き合わなければならないと思いました." What is この問題? How did he tackle this problem?

g) What tradition used in the Mother's Bag makes it unique?

h) Are there any people around you who are following traditions in their work? What kind of work do they do? What sort of traditions are they upholding?

i) Do you think it's important to maintain traditions? Why do you think so?

j) List the things you use in everyday life that you wish to be passed on for the next 100 years. Explain your reasons.

k) Explain what Aoyanagi thinks about the relationship between tradition and innovation. Do you agree with him? Why? Why not?

3. Creative tasks
l) Make a flyer or television commercial advertising the Mother's Bag in Japanese.

m) Research igusa. What merits does igusa have? Present your findings in class.

n) Work in pairs. Create a dialogue between Aoyanagi and a customer. The customer has no knowledge of igusa and tatami, and asks Aoyanagi questions. Aoyanagi answers the questions. Refer to the article and your research done for m) above.

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