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Nepali Elementary School in Tokyo: Anime Workshop

Yesterday, I worked as a volunteer interpreter for 9 to 10 year old Nepali students at Everest International School Japan in Suginami, Tokyo. It was a wonderful experience! Even much more so than I had expected! The children were warm, outgoing and very polite and approachable. Absolutely adorable!

A group of Japanese university students studying animation came to visit the school and introduce the students to their very first hands-on experience in creating their own stop-motion animation film.

First, there was an introductory speech, in which the children were explained the whole process, and what they would be doing. The explanation was all in Japanese, and was interpreted to the students. Then, they were all assigned to their own group tables and given an assortment of colorful, soft clay.

We encouraged them to use their imagination and create their own original character. It needed to be small enough to be proportionate to each backdrop, and be able to stand on its own.

There were several different backdrops on which to film their stop-motion animations!

Two of the stages were from foreign countries, a few were from famous Japanese sights (Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Tower, and Asakusa), and all the rest were well known spots right here in the Suginami ward!

I decided to make my own clay figure as well. I chose to make a likeness of the Hindu god, Ganesha! Here he is at the Kaminarimon gate in Asakusa.

The students were very engaged and excited, and they enthusiastically worked on their figures. Even near the end, when time was running out, and it really was time to wrap up and film their stop motion clips, there were some girls who I could simply not tear away from their creative works. They were determined to make the perfect character. The children were absolute treasures.

Here is my Ganesha with some of the students’ wonderful creations!

Just between you and me, I had in fact, made a second character — an “oni,” which is a unique sort of troll or goblin in Japanese folklore. However, when I was not looking, some mischievous child squashed it up before I had the chance to take a photo! Here is the aftermath…

Here are a couple more random shots of my Ganesha, one at Mt. Fuji, and the other at a popular grocery stand by Ogikubo Station.

By the time we were done, our table was a total disaster zone! But, we all pitched in to clean up and it was done in no time.

All in all, it was a beautiful day. The students of Nepal International School Japan were an absolute pleasure to be with. I hope to see them again all soon!

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