JAPAN SPARK GUIDE: MOTOMI
To make sure that we do our job in helping you build your child’s cultural identity as authentically as possible, we work with our international Spark Guides. They are a team of inspiring cultural ambassadors who are passionate about celebrating their culture with the world!
Let us introduce you to Motomi, our Japanese Spark Guide.
Motomi was born in Ehime, Japan. She now lives in Seattle, USA with her husband and her 12-year-old daughter. She teaches Japanese to students in preschool through to high school.
How did you start teaching?
I started 3 years ago when my daughter's friend was struggling with her Japanese and I started to help her. Then the school asked me if I could teach a Japanese after school program.
What makes you passionate about your culture and why do you want to share it with the world?
When I came to the United States, so many people were interested in learning more about Japanese culture, even the things that I thought were ordinary. This gave me the inspiration to teach it and share my culture with more people.
For example, Itadakimas, which is a blessing before a meal. Saying this is a normal thing for Japanese people. It means giving thanks for the life we have taken (such as meat, fish, and vegetables). So when I came here to the United States, where people don’t say it, I began wondering why I say it. This helped me understand my culture and traditions better. It might be similar to praying but not quite because itadakimasu is something you say before you eat anything. You say it whether it’s a quick snack or breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Another example is about Sushi. There may be some misunderstandings about this traditional famous Japanese food. Sushi isn’t just rice and fish wrapped in seaweed, it has some interesting ingredients in it. First of all, “Su” in Japanese means “Vinegar”. By adding vinegar to rice, you can preserve fish for longer (which is what the Japanese people did back in the old days). There are also the rice balls called “Onigiri” that some people may call “Sushi” just because it is made of rice.
What do you hope to achieve by being a Campfire Crate Cultural Ambassador?
I want to share my culture and traditions with others, especially young children so they can understand and appreciate it. If children have more knowledge about the world, regardless of where they live, they can feel more connected globally to others who have different backgrounds from them, celebrate diversity.
What is your experience in raising your own multicultural child? How do you keep instilling Japanese culture in your home?
I want my daughter to keep her Japanese culture, especially our value of respect.
One thing that I taught my daughter is the Japanese language. I would like for her to be able to talk to my parents and my husband's parents, her grandparents. And I would like for her to continue learning the Japanese language and the Japanese culture so that she can pass it onto the next generation.
I make sure to talk to my daughter a lot in Japanese at home and tell her all about the culture according to the Japanese holiday calendar. For instance, in January we make the special Japanese New Years’ dish, the Osechi. Then we go to the Japanese Shrine and Temple. We also play New Years Day games, just like we would in Japan.
Another thing to know is that Japanese people take a bath everyday. They like to stay clean, fresh and tidy. Japanese people will also wash their hands after they get home from outside places (work, school, etc.) and make sure to take their shoes off in the house and wear slippers instead. Japanese people really like to be tidy and organized as well. I teach my daughter to do this at home.