_________ October 24, 2016 _________

Story of the World II:  Chpt 9

~~~~ Joyful Japanese Jito ~~~~

This week, we moved from China to another Asian kingdom: that of Japan.  Turns out, India was divided, and then a ruler (Skantagupta) united them, and formed the Gupta dynasty.  China was also divided, and the Sui dynasty was formed by the man who united them.  Well, did you know that the same thing happened in Japan?  It was a whole bunch of little kingdoms, and then the middle (and largest) conquered the rest and united them all under the Yamato Dynasty, which is still on the throne, there, today.  That’s amazing, since the dynasty started in 250(ish) BC!

We read stories about the sun goddess and her brother the moon god fighting, and the moon going to earth to fight an 8-headed serpent, and how his sister awarded him a magic sword, a mirror, and a string of beads from her forehead for his deeds (r’something, it’s a LOT more complicated than that).  But apparently every ruler in Japan is given copies of these three items when they come to the crown.  Interesting!  Apparently there’s a whole legend about the missing real magic sword – that it can cut through light and render the user invisible.  Pretty awesome tales.

My favorite site opted to eat Japanese food for their activity.  Last time, they opted for Chinese food.  I… want to opt for more than that.  I wanted a different kind of Japanese ‘flavor’.  So I was looking for a sword (which… with four boys is NOT a good idea), then I stumbled upon ‘jito’…. which might also be ‘jizo’.  Ebay is a hard place to find good spellers, but when I did a search on ‘jito’, it came up, so that’s what I’m going with.  Here’s what they look like:

Jito are ancient Japanese carvings into rock.  The Japanese believed that they brought good luck, that they were ‘friendly spirits’… kind of like our version of a garden gnome or sparkling fairy.  I see them and think ‘Japan!’… but then, I’m a little simplistic.  Whats interesting is that I found one with the beads, with a staff (to replace the sword), and with a cup full of water – which one would see their reflection in.  Kind of like the three special things in the story, if we chose to go that route!


Better still, these ones look like little praying people.  What a great reminder to my kids that they can pray, anytime and anywhere!  Anyhow, I wanted to make some.  Well, we’re not obviously going to be able to carve rock with the kids to make these, but I had the idea of doing them out of hardening sand.  Surely there were some mixture that we could make these out of, right?  And I found a site that has a craft called ‘Sand Castles that will Last‘.  EXACTLY what I was looking for!

Because we’re talking about kids, I wasn’t going to necessarily try for anything difficult.  Something more like this little fellow, who would make us think of Japan, and be very easy for a child to make.  Besides, who doesn’t want to sculpt with play-doh-like sand, after all?!  So we set ourselves to making the sand-clay, and then used this simpler ‘jito’ as our model… simpler is better with kids, trust me.

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It actually went WAY better than I was expecting it to… but you have to be sure the clay is evenly rolled – lumpy means places to crack as it dries.  But the kids had a wonderful time, LOVED the project, and they turned out SO cute!!

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In a few days when they dry, I’m hoping we can brush or scrape the loose bits off.  I just don’t want to mess with them while they’re setting up, y’know?

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Of course Isaac had to use the leftover sand and make a Jito-Yoda.

Anyhow, so we had another successful ‘Story of the World’ activity, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

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