Last week I made a visit to the Japan Information and Culture Center. I had been excited about the visit since receiving the invitation and was thrilled that I would be getting a tour that would also accommodate children. The visit was amazing, I totally recommend you go- read through to the bottom of this post for hours of operation and information about scheduling a tour for homeschool groups and kids. The Washington DC based center is located in Dupont Circle and offers programing and educational opportunities. Visitors are treated to live performances, workshops and exhibitions. I also learned firsthand that the center accepts homeschool groups for lessons on dining, clothing and toys.
Origami like you’ve never see before
The current exhibit Unfolding the Universe: Math & Science in Origami is mind-blowing. Look at curves and wrinkles that were carefully created using paper, some unable to be described mathematically. These works of art are stunning and wondrous. Origami has long been used to teach children about geometry and biology but these pieces are boundary pushing.
An origami microscope
Also on display is an origami microscope. Made out of paper this lightweight, sturdy technology captivated the children. Slides made of packing tape and paper are inserted under the lens and the kids looked at magnified tissue paper, salt and plant parts. The Foldscope is an amazing tool for laboratories that couldn’t otherwise afford a microscope. Having spent the last few years working with microscopes on a daily basis, playing with this was my favorite part. I’m keeping my eye on the website to see when they’re available for public purchase again.
Educational opportunities for children
We also had a taste of their homeschool program (not in a homeschool group? just bring a group of your friends and their kids). After watching a short film titled “Cool Japan” which the kids found fascinating we were invited to the front of the theater. We all took our shoes off and sat on tatami mats around a low table set with realistic models of Japanese food. We all bowed and said “Itadakimasu (いただきます), which literally means “I humbly receive (this food)” a more interpretive translation would be “Let’s eat!” We learned that at the end of a meal one says “Go-chisousama deshita”(ごちそうさまでした) which means “Thank you for the meal.”
In Japan restaurants display models of hyper-realistic food to show off their menu. The food on our table was so convincing that Ooey tried to take a bite out of the shrimp tempura, a food she’s never even had before! Lucky for us the staff has curated a list of Japanese restaurants which you can find, here. (I’ve been to almost every ramen place on their list and you can’t go wrong with any of them).
Paro the therapy seal, you may remember him from Master of None
The kid’s also met Paro, a therapeutic robot seal that made an appearance on the TV show Master of None. The seal responds to his name and Japanese greetings of good morning and goodnight. With built-in sensors Paro knows when he’s being pet- in this case Paro let out some fearful noises being unaccustomed to the heavy-handed kids.
The kids connected with Paro immediately, he’s meant to keep the growing elderly population company. We made a passing comment about maybe buying a Paro for home use, but they come with a pretty hefty price tag.
We had an amazing visit at the Japan Information & Culture Center. The origami exhibit was awe-inspiring and can be seen until October 27th. The homeschooling visits can be set up no more than three months in advance, here. If you’re looking for a new place to explore I’d recommend making a visit or checking out one of their upcoming programs to enjoy without kids.
October 18th – J Film: Throne of Blood 6:30pm
October 26th- Lecture: Visual Art Meets Mathematics 6:30pm
October 27th- Journey Through Anime: Galaxy Express 999 6:30pm
November 3rd- Scholar Spotlight: Drawing with Words 6pm
September 5th- October 27th Unfolding the Universe
October 31st-November 9th Shino Splendor
November 15th-December 27th Art from the Garden
1150 18th Street NW, Washington DC
Open to the public Monday – Friday
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