papier mache

Taiko Camp Part 1: Overview, and how to make a papier-maché chochin

Chochin Cover Pic.jpg

Once you’re established as a teaching artist, summer camp bookings will probably come your way. Summer camps are a great place to introduce kids to taiko! The camp format allows you to cover everything from taiko basics to taiko history (i.e., the way Internment of Japanese Americans during WWII relates to the development of taiko in the US).

I just finished a one week camp that lasted 3 hours a day for 5 consecutive days. I chose Obon as the central theme, with the campers hosting a mini-Obon on the last day. I covered 3 main activities during the camp: learning Matsuri (including solos), learning Tanko Bushi well enough to be able to teach it, and making a papier-maché chochin. We worked on each activity every day. 

Chochin are paper lanterns; at Obon, they’re often hung as decoration. The strings of chochin swaying above everyone’s heads at odori is one of my favorite sights at San Jose Obon. Here’s my step-by-step guide to making a papier maché chochin; it includes how I broke down the process so my campers did a little bit each day. 

In my next few posts, I’ll share the rest of my camp curriculum so you can take advantage of these opportunities when they arise for you. Happy teaching camping!