Holidays & Celebrations:

Cora Chen's Lesson Plan for Two Films Produced by Nicolas Gromik fuji-pagoda-cherry.jpg

Yosakoi (A Japanese Dancing Festival) & Toronagashi (Sending Returning Happy Souls Back to Heaven)

Nicolas Gromik's introduction to his films:

Yosakoi is a dancing festival which originated from the old Chikoku Oodori. Yosakoi is the instrument itself, the clapping noise making thing. Please click on this link to watch the film:
(Play video in alternate format: Select a format to watch the film.)

Toronagashi means the return of the souls back to heaven, it is based on a Buddhist tradition where the souls come to earth to celebrate their death and console their family members and friends, and after this ceremony is conducted, the souls are sent back to heaven, and that's toronagashi. Please click on this link to watch the film:
(Play video in alternate format: Select a format to watch the film.)
Overview: This lesson shows students how to learn about other cultures through documentary films.

Target Group:
  • For the purpose of this lesson, the target group levels range from beginning (high), intermediate, and advanced.
  • Designed for ESOL students such as immigrant students from around the world or foreign students in the International ESL Programs, this lesson is also suitable for high school students and adults.

Objectives: At the end of the lesson, students will learn about and appreciate other cultures and understand people from other cultural backgrounds better.

Group work: After watching the films Yosakoi and Toronagashi, students work in groups and talk about the following questions:
  1. Do you have holidays or special occasions similar to these in your country?
  2. What other special days do you have? When are they?
  3. When is New Year’s Day in your country?
  4. What’s your favorite holiday or festival? How do people celebrate it?
  5. During these special occasions, holidays or festivals, what do people usually do?
  6. Are there parades or street fairs? What kind of musical instruments do people play in the parades, such as drums, flutes, trumpets or others?
  7. What kind of special food and drink do people have on these special occasions?
  8. What kind of things do people give or receive as gifts?
  9. What are the lucky colors and lucky numbers in your culture? What kind of colors do people use for clothing and objects to celebrate these special occasions?
  10. Are there any flowers, fruit, plants or animals that are considered lucky symbols in your culture?
  11. What kind of special clothes or costumes do people wear for these holidays, festivals or special occasions?
  12. Are there any ceremonies for honoring the souls of your dead family members and friends in your country? How often and when are they held? How long do these ceremonies last? What do people usually do during these ceremonies? Do they use the following objects to honor the souls, such as lanterns, candles, torches, bonfires, food, paper objects (clothing and houses that are made of paper) and other things?
  13. What did you see in those films that you found extremely interesting?
  14. What did you think of the films? Were they boring? Why? What would you have liked the films to provide more visual cues of?

Class activity: Give a short talk about an interesting holiday, festival or special occasions in your native country. Answer any questions your classmates may have.

Individual or pair work: Search the web to locate your classmates’ native countries and learn more about their cultures.

Individual work: visit (or any safe online TV channel) and try to find other films which provides a view of your native country’s festivals. What are the differences and similarities between these films? (meaning Toronagashi and selected film)

Class activity: Bring to class any of the following visual items to show how people in your country celebrate these special occasions: cherry-blue_sky.jpg
  • a picture you took or from a magazine, or family photos
  • images you found on the Internet
  • a video file you have created or produced by others