Six Japan and manga themed activities you HAVE to try

Are you ready for SIX brand-spanking new Awesome Activities to accompany our Manga issue? This month we’re looking at Japan and manga-themed activities. We’ve got sensational sakura printing, a whole heap of monkey business, a manga drawing challenge, some weird wave science, a bug hunt and a bento box bonanza! Phew! You ARE going to be busy.

Bento Boxes? We've cracked it!

Did you know that the first type of bento boxes were made in Japan almost 1,000 years ago? During the Kamakura period (1185–1333) workers would bring cooked rice to work in a little bag. Sounds… erm… uninspiring, to be honest, but just look at how bento boxes have evolved! If you’ve already had a go at making our brilliant bento box on pages 10-11 of our marvellous Manga issue, then why not try adding a bit of protein, with these super cute omelette hearts!

Laliv g, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Monkey See, Monkey Do

The Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) is the northern-most living non-human primate. They don’t make their own bento boxes (they’re not quite that sophisticated), but they do do some pretty clever things, like washing their food before they eat it, playing on swings, chilling out in thermal springs and having snowball fights. Do Japanese snow monkeys enjoy party games? I’ll be honest, I’ve no idea – but if they did, it might go something like this. Play our snow monkey charades game, here.  

Photo by Kevin Goodrich on Unsplash

How to Draw Manga Vol.1

Did you know that the word ‘manga’ literally translated means ‘whimsical pictures’ in English? Those pictures may be a bit whimsical (although that really depends on the genre), but they’re definitely not silly! The simple storylines, distinctive artwork and general pace means that quite complex ideas can be communicated in a super accessible way. As always, though, some people just won’t get it. In 2002, The New York Times published an article suggesting that Japanese interest in manga was responsible for the low-literacy rate there. The newspaper had to take it back, when someone pointed out that literacy rates in Japan were actually higher than in the U.S. Fancy drawing your very own manga? Check out volume 1 of Takayo Akiyama’s How to Draw Manga, here!

AQUILA Magazine Manga issue. Illustration by Takayo Akiyama

Beetle Drive

Did you know that the creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri, was once a keen amateur entomologist, whose friends even called him Dr. Bug? Neither did we, but it explains A LOT. After all, playing Pokémon is a lot like bug collecting, if you think about it. Whether Pokémon is your thing or not, you’re sure to enjoy this bug hunting activity. How many beetles will you spot? Make sure you let us know!

Pokemon Trading cards
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Wave Hello!

The Great Wave off Kanagawa is an iconic artwork by Japanese artist, Hokusai. You’ve probably seen this picture – it’s one of the most recognisable pieces of art in the entire world – but did you know that Hokusai was fascinated by the movement of water? It’s a subject he came back to over and over again. Are you fascinated by the movement of water? Would you like to… you know… move some? Then get onboard with this science activity, and let’s get making waves.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai
The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai

Cherrific Printmaking

Hanami is one of the biggest cultural events in the Japanese calendar – that’s when people come together to enjoy the arrival of spring and look at all the beautiful, flowering cherry blossom trees. Hanami is all about hope, renewal, and the art of enjoying lovely things while they last. The origins of Hanami are thought to date back to the Nara period of Japanese history (710-794). Back then, people gathered to watch the ume blossoms – that’s plum trees, not cherries! Ume trees blossom earlier in the year compared with sakura (cherry blossom). As you can probably tell, we’re bonkers about blossom here at AQUILA HQ, so we made this cherry blossom printing activity to celebrate the season.

Cherry Blossom Print

If this all sounds like fun, it’s a mere smidge of what you’ll find in the amazing and educational AQUILA magazine. Why not subscribe today!

Words: Freya Hardy