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Much engagement and almost 12 classes - Kyotanabe

Waldorf education has been increasingly known in Japan through books for over 20 years now. But initiatives for schools to be established are exceptional and need a strong determination. About ten years ago such determination was found in Kyotanabe and a first step was made: two Saturday classes started.

Year by year we opened a new Saturday class. A steady growth of numbers of children and in enthusiasm for Waldorf education led 1998 to the decision to begin a full time school in 2001, which then opened with seven classes at once.

With a great deal of idealism and willingness to make financial sacrifices a school building was erected in two stages, simple, but able to provide for the most basic needs in a beautiful way. It offers 12 class rooms, a hall, a eurythmy room, a science room, teachers room and an office space.The grounds have to host games and gym lessens as well as break time activities. They are in the process of being more and more attractively landscaped.

Teachers and parents made the courageous decision to straight away plan for a full size school up to class 12. In three years this goal will be reached; at present classes 12 and 10 are not established. There are now about 180 students and 30 teachers.

The school is situated between Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, children come from all these directions to attend the school. To find further teachers trained in Waldorf education is an ongoing struggle. Parents are very actively involved in the schools life: helping in the office, maintaining the building and grounds, fundraising and attending meetings at weekends to help carry the school.

Many problems have to be solved, financial shortages, exam pressures etc. There is also the challenge to find this school`s unique Japanese identity, growing roots in Japanese culture, metamorphosing Waldorf education accordingly. Thanks to a good spirit prevailing here, all this is taken on board and carried further faithfully, patiently.

Today it is a day in July – the school is teeming with life and humid heat. Main lesson time. Rhythmical counting is heard, baroque music, a Japanese song … amongst the pitterpatter of the rain. Soon the end of the term will be marked by a special festival: the “Hoshi Matsuri”, star festival. Young and old will appear in colorful traditional costumes. There will be music, entertainment, refreshments… and the experience: this is our school, it is nourishing, it is a courageous pioneer trusting the future, like those longtailed swallows which nested again above the entrances` hustle and bustle this year, raising five chicks.

Hiroko Oba and Christiane Renzenbrink

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Kyotanabe Steiner School
94 Minamihokotate Kodo
Kyotanabe, Kyoto, 610-033

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