Stillwater News Press

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March 23, 2014

KAMEOKA CORNER: Japanese storyteller returns to Stillwater March 30

STILLWATER, Okla. — In the spring of 1995, there was a program in elementary schools in Stillwater called the Japanese Experience in which third-grade children learned about Japanese culture and customs. Part of that program was Japanese storytelling by a well-known storyteller, Hiroko Fujita, from Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo. It’s fair to say Mrs. Fujita’s storytelling was the highlight of the program. What was thought to be a one-time visit turned into multiple visits over a period of about 15 years to share her storytelling talents with Stillwater children. During each visit, Mrs. Fujita was accompanied by her friend, Fran Stalling from Bartlesville. During their storytelling performances, Fran would present an abbreviated outline of the story in English, then Mrs. Fujita would tell the complete story in Japanese. Along with her stories, she used clever props she had made.

It was fun to watch both Mrs. Fujita as she told her stories and the children as they watched and listened very intently. It was amazing how accurately and in detail the children could tell what the story was about. We learned early on that the elementary school children in Stillwater were very fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy Mrs. Fujita’s storytelling talents. In 2000, her itinerary was to visit to schools in San Francisco, Berkley, Detroit, Indianapolis, Houston and Stillwater.  Her visits to our community were made possible by financial support from the Stillwater PTA and by the donation of a lot of time and preparation by Stillwater Middle School teachers and staff and by the interest and appreciation shown by hundreds of children in Stillwater. Whether young or old, you have one more opportunity to enjoy the storytelling expertise of Mrs. Fujita on March 30 at the First Presbyterian Church. There will be a free soup and ice cream dinner at 5 p.m. followed by storytelling from 6-7 p.m. If you plan to attend, call 405-372-5580 or e-mail so they will know how much food to prepare. We hope you’ll make plans to attend.

Larry Jones is a member of the Stillwater Sisters City Council. Stillwater has been a sister city to Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, since 1985. In 1990-92, Jones served as assistant director of Oklahoma State University-Kyoto in Kameoka. Jones and his wife, Kayo, visit Japan frequently and have traveled throughout the country. Since 1989, the Stillwater Middle School and Taisei Junior High School in Kameoka have participated in a sister school relationship which features an active teacher-student exchange program. Larry Jones received the Foreign Minister’s Commendation in 2011 which is the highest award presented by the government of Japan to a person living outside Japan. He was one of six people in the United States so honored that year.


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