J-STORIES - These nursery school children are chopping vegetables with real knives and preparing fish. Sometimes they boil and fry food then serve it to adults. It is not something you’ll often see happen in homes, but there is a nursery school that uses cooking and cleaning up afterwards to teach children independence.
The Hiyori Nursery School is in the city of Kirishima, Kagoshima prefecture. Its manager Risa Furukawa believes that if children are taught to use dangerous things while being made aware they are dangerous, they will instinctively handle things carefully. The nursery school is particular about the kitchen knives used. In cooperation with a company from the city of Tsubamesanjo, Niigata prefecture, a place known for its western tableware and hardware products, it has created kitchen knives for children that are so sharp that even adults are amazed.
Furukawa studied linguistics then taught Japanese for eight years in Sother Korea and China. On her return to Japan, she was surprised at how dependent people’s diets were on partially cooked and prepackaged food. She became very worried that the connection between food and life had weakened for Japanese people, and she focused on the importance of education through food.
Soronomachi Nursery School (Temmonkan, Kagoshima city,) the second nursery opened by Furukawa after Hiyori, operates based on the idea that “making communities self-reliant around food leads to the creation of a sustainable society.”
The nursery hosts events for the local community and elderly neighbors pop into the deli next door. The idea is for people to buy the items they need locally as much as possible, and sometimes they send the preschoolers on errands. Local people interact with each other and the town becomes more lively. The children meet various people and develop richly as individuals.
This kind of food education values childrens’ natural desire to give things a try—and it is a way for nursery education to give children the skills they need for life, said Furukawa in a media interview.
Translation and Editing by Tony McNicol
Top page photo by Hiyorihoikuen YouTube Channel
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