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Senior Airman Garrett Otto helps teach a class at a summer English camp for a select group of Kunsan City students last week. Ten airmen from Kunsan Air Base volunteered to teach at the camp.
Senior Airman Garrett Otto helps teach a class at a summer English camp for a select group of Kunsan City students last week. Ten airmen from Kunsan Air Base volunteered to teach at the camp. (Ashley Rowland / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE,

Okinawa

If you’re going to live in Japan, you should take the time to learn a little about its culture.

That was the consensus Wednesday from about 20 teens attending a five-day Japanese for Teens program at Kadena’s Airman and Family Readiness Center.

“I figured, hey, I live off post, I might as well learn” about the ways of Japan, said Joshua Moore, 14, the son of a soldier.

“It gives you an appreciation for the culture when you know the meaning behind things,” added Vanessa Moore, 17, the daughter of an airman.

That was the purpose of the program, said Ayano Shimojo, the center’s cultural awareness program manager.

“Kids don’t have any chance to explore the Japanese culture, especially on base, so we try to give them [a sampling] of the culture,” she said.

The teens were being taught basic greetings and counting in Japanese, and were given the opportunity to dress in traditional kimonos. They also made mangekyoo with washi — kaleidoscopes decorated with Japanese paper.

Making mangekyoo was “unbelievably hard,” Joshua said.

For Vanessa and her 12-year-old sister, Briana, the best part of the program so far was dressing in the colorful kimonos.

“I just like dressing up. I guess it’s just a girl thing,” said Briana, who has lived in Japan since she was 4.

The teens were scheduled to learn origami and brush writing Thursday and Friday.

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