Unicycle and sword dance – Tokyo II
1994 opened the second Waldorf school in Tokyo: Kenji no Gakkou, named after a famous poet and educator. Today the school has nine classes and around 100 children.
Our school is located along a beautiful river named the Tama which has been sung in various Japanese poems such as Mannyo-shyu, Japanese oldest anthology of Waka. Our school was named after the renowned poet and educator Miyazawa Kenji. Kenji is in Japan famous for his stories written for young people. Yet he was in fact a farmer, poet, botanist, scientist, and teacher. Essential ideas of man told by Kenji are very similar to the ones of Rudolf Steiner. Our children often sing Kenji´s songs and recite his poems in class.
We are proud to have nine classes already. May we present you the three boys and three girls of our eldest class? Hokuto likes playing the base-guitar. Ryutaro is now interested in puzzle rings (usually consisting of two linked components which have to be separated). Tadashi, the tallest boy at school, likes cooking. Lumina, an Italian-Japanese girl, is lovely and fond of fashion. Kaya reads many books and Kana dances very well. They all now learn to recite the first few lines from Macbeth in English class.
Since several months there as been a fever at our school – however, it is really healthy and helps children to develop their twelve senses: Riding a unicycle.
It was one day after school. Some forty children were playing in the schoolyard. One child balanced herself on her unicycle, then other children on a unicycle came to her one after another, holding each other’s hand. The first child remained at the center balancing herself, while other children tried to turn round her with their hands chainedlike the two hands of the clock. They failed again and again, yet they never gave up. At last they made a beautiful big clock in the yard.
In summer we usually take part in an annual festival organized by Suwa-shrine and Tachikawa-city where our school is situated. A lot of pageants roll round the city, and dancers, drummers and pipers in Happi (Japanese traditional dress often clothed in an festival) march in procession. Many groups show their performances on the street. Our children dance the Nanazu-mai (seven heads dance) that has lasted for more than 130 years in Japan and was originally performed asking for abundant harvest and peace in the village. It is when they come to class four that the children of Tokyo Kenji no Gakkou can participate in the training of Nanazu-mai. Why is this dance so special? It is performed with Japanese short and long swords...