Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 1, 2004

Japanese guest visits Montrose

By Lynda Jensen

“Yoooo-ko! Yoooo-ko!”

Little hands reach out to wave and smile as children call to Japanese guest Yuko Nagahori as she moves through the hallways at Montrose Elementary.

She is on the tail end of a three week long visit, using her time to teach Japanese language, art and writing to students.

She has a soft, musical voice, as she asks students to mimic pronouncing Japanese words.

“Itchy-knee-sun-she-go,” the students repeat to her, singing and repeating the words which mean “one-two-three-four-five,” in Japanese.

She teaches them other words, such as “Ohayoo,” which means “Good morning.”

Other skills she teaches are calligraphy, the Japanese art of origami, and haiku, a form of Japanese poetry.

In contrast, a Japanese student must learn 2,000 letters in three different alphabets in order to read a newspaper, she said.

The students’ curiosity is engaging as she tells them about Japanese culture.

For example, Japan contains half the population as the United States, with about 1/25 of the land area. This would be like relocating half the US population on the state of Montana, she said.

Although there is snow in Japan, on the mountain regions of this island country, Nagahori was a little surprised over the climate change in Minnesota. This is her first trip to the state.

Nagahori, who lives near Tokyo, noted the trees are similar in Japan as Minnesota, she noted.

She also noticed the low crime rate, she said.

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