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There are so many fun, witty, and surprising stories of Ikkyu, and Japanese people still tell them. Two stories of Ikkyu are featured in the video below, along with photos of his temple in Kyoto! The short, beautifully animated screenplay and illustrations are by COCORO, with narration by Ypsi residents Toko Shiiki and Erik Santos.



Sumi-e is the Japanese word for Black Ink Painting. It involves using a bamboo brush, ink, and rice paper. Traditionally, the black ink is traditionally made with an ink stick and stone shown below. For this project, substitute the black watercolor paint in your kit for ink.

Did you notice the bamboo in the tiger painting in the Ikkyu video? Bamboo is one of the four subjects students learn to paint first. It represents summer and is a symbol of endurance and flexibility.

Grab your paintbrush and rice paper and follow along with the YouTube tutorial below to paint bamboo. 

You can also practice Japanese calligraphy. Learn more about Japanese writing on our Japan page you’ll find linked at the bottom of the page.


Haiku began in thirteenth-century Japan as the opening phrase of a long poem called a renga. The much shorter haiku broke away from renga in the sixteenth century and was mastered a century later by Matsuo Basho, who wrote this classic haiku:

An old pond!
A frog jumps in—
the sound of water.

As the form has evolved, many of its regular traits—including its famous syllabic pattern (5-7-5)—have been routinely broken. However, the philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment.

Haiku are traditionally about nature, but instead, try writing a haiku about your favorite color using this guide from 826Valencia.

Ypsi Writes logo text "ypsi writes"

You can also write your haiku on rice paper from your kit and add brush strokes to decorate it as a special gift for someone. 


Origami is the traditional art of Japanese paper folding. The world’s oldest book on origami, Hiden Senbazuru Orikata (How to Fold a Thousand Cranes), was published in 1797. It provided detailed instructions for folding paper cranes. During the Meiji period (1868-1912) origami began to be taught in kindergarten in Japan, as well as in elementary school art classes, and became increasingly popular. Origami is now popular all over the world, and many groups of origami fans enthusiastically practice this craft.

Use the paper in your supply kit and follow along with this video to fold a crane, or search for other online origami instructions.


As part of our summer Around the World series, we went with Toko to Japan. Click the button to learn more about Japanese writing you can try with your brush and rice paper, printmaking, and a short history of anime!