Japan and Nature: Spirits of the Seasons exhibit will run
through July 2014 and is included with your regular
Kohl Children's Museum: 2100 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview, IL
Admission: $9.50 for adults and children over one
They say Chicago has two seasons, winter and
construction. Japan has five seasons - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
and rainy. That's just one of the fun tidbits my kids and I learned
as we explored Kohl Children's Museum's newest exhibit:
Japan and Nature: Spirit of the
The exhibit is divided into four seasons each
marked by a tree representing that season - bare, cherry blossoms,
fall colors and green. In addition to each season, each area
explores a different region of Japan as well as an aspect of
childhood - play, school, family and holidays. Due to the extreme
cold I visited with all four of my children ages 10 months to eight
years. There was so much for them to see and do - in what at first
looks like a sparse exhibit - that we easily spent 45 minutes
My kids were instantly drawn to two areas, winter
in Sapporo and Fall in Kyoto. My kids all enjoyed sitting around
the table and learning to use chopsticks and eat pretend sushi. My
daughter was particularly thrilled to learn that in Sapporo they
use heated blankets as a tablecloths to keep their legs warm during
the meal. They were also surprised that there were no large dinner
plates like we use at home but bowls of all different size and
shapes. It was a great way to talk about how people eat in
After enjoying their Japanese dinner we spent some
time dressing up and playing the festival drum in Kyoto. We had
seen a special drum group over the summer at the Botanic Gardens so
my kids were excited to play and remembered right away the proper
stance the drummers took. The baby mostly like climbing the stairs
to the temple. We also took time to admire the skill of 1000
origami cranes all folded together at the Inari and we left our own
wishes on the ema plaques.
After the peace and calm of winter and fall I lost
my kids as they excitedly ran from one thing to another on the
other side of the exhibit which features spring, summer, and rainy.
There is a school room that featured calligraphy stations as well
as a chance to make Tera Bozu dolls. These dolls made from pieces
of fabric look like ghosts and are used to ward off rain. We also
learned about the Children's Day celebration and played with carp
windsocks of different sizes and colors to represent the different
family members. We also got to fish in Lake Biwa and look for
insects while playing in a tent. The kids were so excited to learn
that people camp everywhere.
The highlight for my two little girls (6 and 3) was
playing dress up with traditional styled kimonos and taking
pictures in front of the different scenic images of Lake Biwa. For
the older kids, like my son, there is lots of information scattered
throughout the exhibit. He enjoyed reading all the haikus and
learning that a traditional haiku will tell you the season by the
words it uses. He also enjoyed learning about school in Japan.
Overall, it's a great way to introduce or teach kids about another
culture through hands-on experience and play.
Japan and Nature: Spirits of the Seasons was
created by the Brooklyn Children's Museum as part of the Asian
Exhibit Initiative, funded by the Freeman Foundation and
administered by the Association of Children's Museums.
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
See more of Melissa's stories here.
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