CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Jan. 26, 2020) – When it comes to classes that involve Japanese culture at the Camp Zama Arts and Crafts Center, Lauren Rosa is a fan.
“I always like the classes here,” said Rosa, who took the center’s Washi Paper Box Making class Jan. 23 with her twin daughters Camryn and Emmi, 11. “Especially when it’s something related to Japanese culture in our host country, I just really like to get involved.”
Saori Komura, an art instructor at the center, taught five people how to construct the boxes and cover them with traditional Japanese washi paper during the class. Students chose from several colorful washi paper designs for their boxes, and cut the paper. Komura had already prepared all the other materials before the class began, so students then followed her directions to construct the boxes. Komura helped when necessary.
Camryn and Emmi said they appreciated the challenge of making the boxes themselves, as well as the help they received.
“I like how it wasn’t so easy, but people here help you so much that it’s not as hard as if you did it by yourself,” Camryn said.
Emmi said she also found the end product—a small box with a cover shaped like a Japanese sandal—was well worth the work that went into it.
“I thought it was pretty fun how we got to do a Japanese activity and make a nice washi paper box that we actually built,” Emmi said.
Emmi said she and her sister participate in art classes often with their mother, who teaches art at Zama Middle High School and has been an art teacher for 25 years. The siblings also paint, create pottery and complete other projects with their mother.
In addition, they have taken classes on how to make holiday ornaments and animal mugs at the center, Rosa said.
“We just really enjoy coming here for the classes,” Rosa said. “They’re really good.”
Suzanne Ohsiek, also a participant, said she appreciated the fact that Komura had prepared everything beforehand so participants could start constructing the box right away.
“It makes it really easy,” Ohseik said.
What made the class so special, however, was that it was a new craft project for her, as she had never seen washi paper before in the United States, Ohsiek said.
“It’s fun to see the different materials,” Ohsiek said.
Participants also received materials and instructions for making an easier, larger box at home.
Previously, Komura has taught classes in ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, and the center has also hosted classes in shodo, Japanese calligraphy.
Sabrina Tsai, manager of the Camp Zama Arts and Crafts Center, said the classes that focus on aspects of Japanese culture are particularly helpful during the pandemic because people cannot travel as much.
[People at Camp Zama] only stay here for maybe two or four years, and when they are here, they need to be exposed to all the different culture and art [of Japan],” Tsai said.
To learn about future classes at the Camp Zama Arts and Crafts Center, visit Bldg. 360-B on Camp Zama, or call (COMM) 046-407-4412 or (DSN) 315-263-4412.