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Post-playshop Dialog

  1. Introduction
  2. Playshop: Day 1
  3. Warming-up with Mime
  4. Making washi
  5. Engawa: An Intermediate Space
  6. Expressing and Letting-go
  7. Family Face Painting
  8. Keeping It Open
  9. Transitional Spaces
  10. Blurring Media Boundaries
  11. Keyword Mix
  12. Realizing Authenticity
  13. Balancing Freedom and Control
  14. Keeping It Playful
  15. Emotional Interactions
  16. Selecting the Appropriate Media
  17. Allowing for the Emergent
  18. Respecting the Flow
  19. Becoming Media-sensitive
  20. Designing Play Spaces
  21. Creating a Third Space

1. Introduction

Playshop was held at Neo-Museum in the beautiful natural environment of Yoshino, Nara on July 2, 2000. A total of six families participated, including children from the ages of five to six. Playshop continued the concept of the first Playshop held in autumn 1999, but this time, we incorporated some high-tech activities that were not possible in the previous Playshop. The theme, "Feel the Media," focused on the act of experiencing with the five senses. In the natural environment of Yoshino, we tried to use all the faculties of the body for variety of direct experiences. Although we rely on our senses every day, we are rarely fully aware of what we are feeling. This workshop sought to awaken people to sounds, colors, shapes, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations again or for the first time. What we felt was then amplified with high-technology, projected on screens, and sampled as audio to become the raw material for play.
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2. Playshop: Day 1

9:00 Wake-up Activities (Transformation)
Everyone gathered in the open area of Neo-Museum. Wake-up Activities began with pantomime led by Kanjiyama Mime. We became washi (Japanese paper) when it is stretched taut and the wrinkles are smoothed out before it is used for papering. We turned into thin strips of paper that flutter in the slightest breeze, and other transformations.

9:30 Making washi
After transforming ourselves into washi, we all drove to a washi-making atelier about 15 minutes away. It was time to try our hand at making washi. The paper-making artisans were an elderly couple who gently guided each of us in the art of paper-making.

11:00 Releasing Balloons
We returned to Neo-Museum after making washi. The families wrote their impressions and feelings on balloons filled with helium and then released them one by one, letting them float to the ceiling.

11:30 Face Painting
Kanjiyama Mime led us in making different types of facial expressions: angry faces, crying faces, etc. We then went outside where we painted each other's faces in bright colors and recorded this on digital video.

12:00 Lunchtime
The staff arranged lunch, and the families and staff had lunch together.

13:00 Images of Face Painting
Images of face painting from the morning were shown on a large screen like a flip-through comic.

13:30 Searching for Sounds, Images, and Words

We went to a nearby river to find and feel river sounds, images and words, and then sketched what we felt on the washi. The weather was beautiful and clear, and we all got into the river and enjoyed playing in the water.

15:00 Making a Media Poem
Next, we used high-tech media to amplify and transform the sketches we had made at the river. The sketched images were turned into animation. Sketched sounds were reproduced aurally and sampled. Words were input into the computer, and the text was freely manipulated on the screen. With help from Ms. Yuko Osada, music designer, Mr. Masahiko Furukata, computer designer, and animation by Sharp Corporation, the families made their own media pieces.

15:45 Media Poem Presentation and Reflection
Now it was time to present our media pieces. First, the images started out as animation, and sound and text were then layered on. Using image, sound, and text, we created media poems in real time. Making and presenting these pieces simultaneously became a time to reflect on the day's experiences.

After the event, a meeting to reflect on Playshop was held with Mudpie members and Kanjiyama Mime and Mr. Furukata.
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3. Warming-up with Mime

Ueda: I'd like to start with a summary of the Playshop program. This Playshop took place during one full day at Neo-Museum in Yoshino. Everybody met at 9:00 in the morning. Six families participated, and there were children ages 5 to 7, and junior-high school and senior-high school students. Kanjiyama Mime led us in some warming-up exercises first. Could you tell us what we did first?

Kanjiyama: I was thinking about the theme "transformation." I was a little anxious about what would happen because I hadn't been involved in the planning from the beginning. As a stage performer, I take a particular situation and improvise from it. I looked at what everyone was looking at and the materials we had, and then decided to use these elements as an interface. On that day, there happened to be some papier-mâché so I decided to use it in our transformation. We did a little more warming up on the theme of transformation. Then I told everybody to think of their bodies as papier-mâché, to pull it, hit it, flatten it, and roll it up in a ball. Everybody tried to express paper mâché with bodily movement.

Ueda: So, when you hit the papier-mâché, you felt as if you have been hit?

Kanjiyama: Yes, that's right. Our bodies stretched and got longer as the papier-mâché was flattened and pulled in different directions. The children had a lot of fun with this. After playing around with this theme, we tried to become washi. Our bodies had become the papier-mâché and changed into different shapes. Next I wanted to explore the processes of paper, how paper is transformed.

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4. Making washi

Ueda: We then went to a washi-making atelier. It was very dark. Hillel, what did you think of the atmosphere, the woman who showed us how to make washi, and the ambience.

Hillel: I fell in love with the washi lady.

Ueda: She was about 82, wasn't she?

Hillel: Yeah, she was wonderful. The way she interacted with the children was really beautiful.

Ueda: I remember she was scaffolding the children from the back. That is a great way to support children's learning. Teachers usually pull on children to get their attention or they just watch. But, that was a very concrete example of scaffolding and helping, and then she stood back and let the child do it.

Hillel: Students could also feel that the atelier was where they worked from day to day and students don't feel that kind of ownership or reality in most school situations.

Omori: The grandmother helped the children feel that it was OK to make a mistake. She let them know they could do it again. There is no right or wrong answer. She was letting them know that they could try and see how it feels. She was really good about saying, "You are on the right track." She was very encouraging with the children.

Hillel: She was a natural teacher.

Ueda: I was so surprised at how serious the children were. They held the washi so carefully. We did not have to tell them how to behave. As soon as they came in, they knew they had to be careful. I don't know why.

Omori: I think it was because everything was authentic. The grandmother's interaction with the children was authentic. She really wanted to teach these children about this traditional art. She is very proud of it. I am sure they planned for our visit just as a teacher plans a curriculum before the children come. They were excited about teaching it to the younger generation, and having the children feel that it is something important to them, to their history, and who they are. The children felt the authenticity of the place and the tools they used because it was a very traditional family and they had been using the tools for over a hundred years. She told us about how it became automated at some point, but before that they had to do it by hand. The whole process gave the children a feeling for being very careful and proud of what they were doing and learning.

Kanjiyama: Another element that added to the atmosphere of authenticity was her mastery of manipulation. I was really impressed with the manipulation of the tools. The children saw it and they were impressed, too. Then they tried it. They found out that it was much harder than it looked. It was impressive to experience it and get to know the difficulty.

Hillel: I went around asking a lot people why they thought that they got so involved. The key word was that it was authentic. It wasn't something that was set up, like some museums that have been designed to look like a washi atelier. This place was real. It was a washi place. When you entered it, it was a funky, funky place. There was nothing false about it. It was very real. I remember I asked you why you thought your daughter was so engaged.

Miyata: All the adults were very engaged and my daughter felt that there was something different about me.

Omori: They came into contact with the grandmother, with the traditions of Yoshino, with the actual tools they used every day. All this interaction affected them deeply and became that they took back with them. In museums, everything is roped off and you're not supposed to touch anything, but there are some things that you can't learn how to do just by looking. That's why actual, physical contact is so important.

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5. Engawa: An Intermediate Space

Miyata: I took part in the Playshop with Kokoro, my five-year-old daughter. When we first arrived at the washi-making atelier, she had just woken up from a nap in the car and was still a little sleepy. The grandmother saw that and lined up some cushions for her to lie down on the engawa or porch. That was so nice to see that and the Yoshino ravine below.

Ueda: The atelier was really high, about 20 meters above the ravine.

Miyata: We relaxed a little there. It was more than just a place to make washi, they welcomed us with such natural consideration. And, it seemed perfect that washi would be made in such an atmosphere. From the porch, you could tell that people were making washi in the back.

Ueda: Yes, you could. Hillel, I am not sure how to explain engawa in English.

Omori: It's a kind of porch-type space.

Ueda: You know when you went up to the house, there was a sitting space. That is called engawa. It is a space that lies between the inside and outside. The washi atelier had an engawa which is a type of porch that is neither inside or outside. Kokoro-san was waiting there. She felt something exciting was going to happen. It is a great introduction. When we design a museum setting, we need a ritual place or a transitional place or transformational place.

Miyata: It's a place where people who are arriving can sit down first quite naturally. As they are sitting there, their attention is drawn to what is going on inside, and this makes them want to go inside and take a look.

Kanjiyama: The adults themselves were also attentive and I thought this was very important. At a children's museum, the adults show the children around, but they are not really looking themselves. But, they pay attention if they are watching a professional musical. Children learn while watching adults and notice whether they are really enjoying themselves or not. But, the atmosphere at the atelier was very different.

Omori: Everything seemed so natural. The way the grandmother welcomed us was so natural. There were sweets and tea. She served the adults tea and the children a cold drink. There were sweet and salty snacks, a porch, a fan, some cushions. She was inviting us into her daily life. The atmosphere was so natural. You could see this in the way the children stretched out on the porch and relaxed after they finished making washi and talked about how much fun it had been. They had some juice and chatted about the experience, and how hot it was. Their expressions were so natural. I think it was because the adults received them in such a natural way.

Ueda: Museums are totally artificial environments. They are artificially-made places and their experiences are artificial. We went all the way to Yoshino, but we did not encounter nature per se. We came into contact with the history of Yoshino, and its context, and tried to make these experiences the basis for what we did in Playshop. Actually, Playshop itself is also a totally contrived experience. It is not a place where you cook and do the activities you do everyday. In the case of a one-day workshop, we want it to be very artificial, but also a place to come into contact with everyday life. That is why we went to the washi-making atelier first.

Miyata: Children who are my daughter's age don't really verbalize and analyze, but if you watch them, you'll notice that they feel the change. As they play, they start moving naturally and become more relaxed.

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6. Expressing and Letting-go

Ueda: We left at about 9:30 in the morning and came back before 11:00. When we got back, the staff members were all holding balloons. I wasn't actually there then. Hillel, do you remember they came back and chose the balloons?

Hillel: We asked the families to choose a color that expressed how they felt. A lot of families wrote on the balloons.

Omori: Before the face painting and right after the washi experience. The balloons were filled with helium and floating. We asked the families to choose a color that represented their feelings at the moment or their experience. That also made the families negotiate how they felt. They had to talk about how they felt and explain why they felt "orange," for example.

Hillel: We saw different negotiation styles among the families.

Kanjiyama: Actually, that type of negotiation doesn't often happen in the family, does it?

Omori: No, but at Playshop, it was very explicit.

Hillel: Some told the eldest son to go and choose the color, but in other families, there was more negotiation going on.

Omori: Yes, for example, who brings the balloon back, what color is it going to be, why can't the little brother chose. There were lots of negotiations. They wrote about their experience at the washi-making atelier on the balloon. There were some really honest opinions. One father wrote that making washi made him nervous because he had to do it three times before he could get it right. The father in a family doesn't have much of a chance to admit he failed or his job isn't going well. That was really honest. I could see a lot of unspoken interaction going on with body language and visual contact. It became an interface for the family to begin communicating about the different things that were going on. At the end, each family made a presentation. We let go the helium-filled balloons at the end and they floated to the top of the museum. I thought it was symbolic. It said we had this experience together, we felt this way, talked about it, we negotiated about it, and now we can let go. It was a very visual type of letting-go. In education and in counseling, we often need to let go of certain things that are bothering us.

Hillel: Maybe we should have asked them to make more emotional statements. That would have incorporated the letting-go a bit more, like some of the frustrations that you feel in your family that you can't normally express.

Kanjiyama: Yes, out in the open air is much better than in the house.

Ueda: I was recording it on video from above. The atmosphere was really nice. There was a family of four around a helium-filled balloon and they were discussing what to write on the balloon. Watching from above, I could see the families negotiating and forming one opinion. The balloon was a media for both expression and negotiation. I think balloons are a very dynamic type of media. Hillel, what do you think about the media aspects of balloons?

Hillel: You used to use the cube a lot. The cube and the balloon are really different, right? The balloon has a roundedness and it can float up in the air. You can't fill a cube with helium. Seeing the balloon rise and a group of people around it like that was visually powerful.

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7. Family Face Painting

Hillel: One of our goals was to find the kind of media that families could gather around. We did it with food also. Food was another thing that gathered families around the table. When Takeo (Kanjiyama Mime) was doing the pantomime, the families fell on the floor in a pile. That was also powerful. How did you get everybody to fall on the floor like that? That was fantastic.

Kanjiyama: I forget. What was the image I had in mind? Accumulation in the center?

Omori: Was it a tree?

Ueda: You made some sound.

Kanjiyama: Imaging improvisation. Mud? Raindrops? Earth mixed with rain became mud and then we stepped in it.

Hillel: Then we went outside. One of our goals was to try to create a space where families could come together around different kinds of media. The balloon turned out to be really interesting. When everyone went outside, people weren't so centered, but they were off doing different things. The kids were in the river.

Omori: Face painting allowed families to become centered. The center was the face, and that became the media.

Kanjiyama: Yes, you don't usually pay attention to it as being made up of different parts.

Hillel: We wanted to get people to touch each other, too. We wanted them to use the five senses. How often do people use the five senses? How often do families touch each other? To see that boy touching his father's face was really important. Creating a space for people to come together and do that was one of our goals.

Ueda: This time, our purpose was to feel different types of media. Facial expressions can even be a type of media. When you apply face paint to make an expression, it makes you pay attention to that particular expression. And, when you are aware that you are making a particular expression, it becomes a medium that conveys what you are feeling. Just as Hillel mentioned, it is unnatural to stare at someone's face, but when people paint each other's faces, it makes them focus on the expression they are making. In this Playshop, we tried to be media-sensitive, meaning that we wanted to become more sensitive to different expressions. We wanted to explore the role of face painting in heightening sensitivity. It was the same with making washi. Going to the washi atelier had the effect of making the children more sensitive to making things.

Omori: Rather than heightening sensitivity, I would say it is starting with a totally open state, like a blank slate or canvas. I don't necessarily mean biofeedback, but with some training, they can return to this state of emptiness or openness and become an empty canvas.

Ueda: So if it is not heightening sensitivity, then should be conceptualize it?

Kanjiyama: Concentration? This state of emptiness is really concentration, isn't it? There are so many types of media, and children are not able to concentrate in daily life because they start following the rhythm of TV which is timed in seconds. They don't focus on one thing during the day, like making washi, for instance. But, you lose track of time when you are concentrating and before you know, an hour or two has passed. This state of emptiness or losing yourself happens when you become totally absorbed by something. Face painting is like this. Everyone really got into it.

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8. Keeping It Open

Furukata: I couldn't get into it. This was because I missed the beginning. When I came down, everyone was already doing face painting. The level of concentration was tremendous. Everyone was making washi, and I wanted to participate, but it is hard for someone who comes later to join in when everyone's concentration is so intense.

Ueda: I always feel that during the workshops. Once a situation starts taking shape, it is hard for someone to jump in. That happens.

Omori: Actually, there were some people who came to the Neo-Museum where the workshop took place. I tried to get them to come in. They came up to the gate and looked in, but they turned around and left because they felt that atmosphere was closed. We had made a closed space that was difficult for other people to enter. That is not supposed to happen in education. We should create an inviting space that allows anyone to join in if they feel like stepping inside and trying something. They should feel that they will discover something interesting if they come inside.

Ueda: This is where is the engawa or porch plays an important role. Furukata-san had to open a door to come inside and that can be intimidating.

Kanjiyama: Yes, the engawa is like a retreat. The washi-making atelier had a porch and it was easy to get involved in the activities. But, entering an unknown place through a gate can be difficult. You need a kind of porch to connect the two, a place where you can take a rest before you approach further inside.

Furukata: And if you get tired, you can rest on the porch.

Omori: You can control the pace of activities and the way you feel.

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9. Transitional Spaces

Miyata: We have to think about the balance between concentrating intensely on one thing and resting because concentration is an important issue for us.

Kanjiyama: Transitions are important. They are not a stopping or a retiring from action.

Ueda: Historically speaking, Yoshino is a really interesting place because many of the people who live there fled from the centers of powers to start something new. Yoshino is an engawa! But, getting back to design models for workshops, Hillel and I came up with four important elements. First, there is the space. What kind of spaces should Playshop and other workshops be? Then there are the people who take part. There are the tools, media, and toys that we use. And, then the activities. This element is the most important. What kind of activity are we going to do? With whom? And what kind of stimulating media should we prepare? Finally, how can we blend all these elements in the space? What sort of context do we place them in? So these are the obvious elements, but we felt something was missing, too. Actually, we need something like an engawa. Also, behind all these obvious elements, there is so much going on backstage, so to speak. There are staff members dealing directly with the children in the workshop, but there are also people preparing behind the scenes. For example, when the children come in from outside, the tea is ready. Or when they came back from the washi-making atelier, the balloons were already filled with air. Besides the activity itself, the surrounding support has to be designed, too, including the surrounding circumstances. When we went to the washi-making atelier, it had a certain ambiance. There was the smell of washi-making. It was dark. The ambiance fills up all the empty spaces and brings all the elements together. So there are the activities that are in the foreground and then the circumstances, support, preparation, and ambiance that make up the background. When I feel that the workshop has been successful, I mean that all these elements have come together so beautifully.

We only had a day. That was a little unnatural. But, the museum should have had an engawa so people can see us from outside and come in to satisfy their curiosity.

Kanjiyama: But looking at this from a wider perspective, this type of museum is a sort of engawa vis-à-vis the school system, a kind of retreat from school.

Ueda: Yes, it would be positioned between school and home. For adults, this would be between work and home. People can come to the museum on their way home from school or from home. It has an engawa position. They can take their workshop experience back to school or into the home.

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10. Blurring Media Boundaries

Omori: In families and schools today, inter-generational communication and mentoring has become very difficult. But, if there were a kind of in-between space for people to come together, a space like the engawa in a Japanese house, natural mentoring could take place.

Ueda: Speaking of encounters, this time I think we explored how to cross boundaries between media and to what extent we could blur them. We had various experiences. We wrote about them. We had different tactile sensations. Then we used the latest media and recorded them on video. When one thinks in terms of media literacy, one tends to assume that the world of computers and video is totally different from that of clay and paper. But, in fact, these media are related. This time, we did face painting and then recorded it on video. When you put these video images together, they become a kind of comic book that you flip through quickly to make the images look they are moving, a flip-through comic book. Recording your reflection or what you see in another person's face makes it possible to enlarge or amplify it and show on a large projector. This turns it into a different experience. It creates a little distance so you are able to see what kind of expression you had in a particular time. It also lets you see what you experienced from different angles. That is why it was so interesting to take one thing and record on video and write about it. Sounds are usually recorded with a tape recorder or other devices, but this time, we convert them into images and text before inputting them in a computer. When we brought all these elements together and made a visual mix, I felt that we were doing more than just watching what we had recorded on video. We were reconstructing our experience of that day by mixing and watching selected elements.

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11. Keyword Mix

Ueda: For example, Furukata-san was in charge of the moving text called Keyword Mix. You take a keyword that represents something that you felt. Could you explain for us?

Furukata: Anyway, I didn't have much time so I decided to make the software after I arrived and got a feeling of the site and atmosphere. How big was the screen? How many people were there? What would be interesting to do? What should it be? What did the families associate with the words and sounds when they went down to the river? I converted these sounds into text and put them into the computer. Touching the mouse made the words suddenly fill the screen. We used the mouse to perform what they had felt. We added music and some choreography and put it together for a performance.

Ueda: I really liked the way the text moved around. It suddenly filled the screen together with music, animation, and video images of the day's events. For instance, there were words and exciting sounds that sounded very different during the different images of face painting.

Furukata: And even though the text bounced around on the screen, sometimes it went up and sometimes it went down. So, the way the text moved around was very different.

Ueda: You called it the Keyword Mix. Rather than just watching and thinking about what someone shows you on video, it is interesting to manipulate elements that you have put together yourself and then reflect on your experience while making the work in real time.

Furukata: The musical instrument metaphor is a good one. Musical instruments make sounds. First, you feel something. You express it as sounds or music and then perform it. You can even perform the music differently from the way you felt it. It is the same with words. You can turn what you feel into words. You can change the words depending on how you feel when you communicate or perform, or depending on how you happen to feel. It is similar to playing an instrument in a live performance.

Ueda: I see what you mean. The metaphor of a musical instrument seems to be a good one. It is like performing by yourself. I am not sure if the input text became a sound source or melody, but it was interesting. Hillel, you brought some mint, didn't you?

Hillel: This is a good example of feeling the media. One of the things that we wanted to do in Playshop was feel the media and bring in the five senses. When I visited your house the other day, I had a chance to touch and smell the herbs. When I pass things around to my students, I notice that my students only use their visual sense. They just look and think. That is the extent of the interaction. They don't smell, feel and they never think about tasting. They want to know if it is safe to eat.

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12. Realizing Authenticity

Miyata: When you listen to people talk, to sounds and voices and feelings, you become like that person. You can see the history behind him or her. I think there is a way of listening. Even if you hear the same thing or see the same thing, heightening sensitivity is a matter of the extent to which you can feel this history. So, for example, in the washi-making, what is behind the washi-making itself?

Ueda: The grandmother and the whole family welcomed us so warmly. That was so important.

Ueda: In any case, the workshop was for one day so we could only communicate our vision. We can convey what we want people to feel in an one-day workshop, but we still have to make these activities a part of daily life so it becomes authentic. That's why making such a place where different people can get together and interrelate is one approach to media.

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13. Balancing Freedom and Control

Ueda: In the afternoon, the participants went down to the river. On washi, they sketched the sounds of the water, other sounds of nature, and what they felt. There were two brothers, one in the first grade and the other in high school. The older brother kept telling his younger brother to follow the activity guide's instructions and use the stethoscope to listen to the rocks and rivers. Since the workshop was designed that that way, he thought we had to follow the program, but when his younger brother saw the river, he jumped right in and wasn't the least bit interested in the stethoscope. The older brother wrote in the questionnaire that he felt embarrassed when his younger brother ignored what he was telling him and jumped in the river instead. We wondered if he should have just let him go or if he should have encouraged him to follow the planned program. He was wondering which was better. This brings up the question of control. How can we control the workshop? This is something we, as the staff of the workshop feel: aren't we coercing people a little too much, telling them what to do next? Even though it looks like we're doing something free and creative, maybe we are really making them do what we want. This is always a possibility. We shouldn't be forcing people too much, but then on the other hand, we can't have them just doing whatever they want so it's not easy.

Omori: Yes, this goes back to what Mr. Furukata said. It was difficult for him to get into the face painting because he arrived a little later. Everyone was already so intensely involved. Even when we went to the river, our plan of having people listen to the trees with the stethoscope didn't really work.

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14. Keeping It Playful

Hillel: This is really important if we are thinking about designing a museum. A museum has walls and you put things in it. But, people like to play "out of the box." It is a control issue. How much do we control? Is that model we want to use? You were talking about scaffolding. I like the word "dancing." The grandmother was dancing with the children. She wasn't leading them, but she had a way of dancing with them. When you dance with somebody, who chooses the steps and the music? Who leads and who follows? When kids dance today, nobody leads. I think that is symbolic of the way people learn.

Omori: We had everything planned, and we didn't expect that the children would jump into the river. In some ways, maybe we needed to plan a more improvisational session where parents can decide what they want to do with their children at the river. They can do whatever they want. It is their free time to stay with their family and chose something to do.

Kanjiyama: You mean providing more tools as options and they can pick?

Omori: It could be anything. The father could teach the child how to throw stones. It can be any kind of scaffolding activity that you usually can't do with your children or wife. For example, the father can teach the children what he used to do at the river. Or the other family members can teach the father.

Hillel: A lot of those things happen naturally, like skipping stones. Are you saying we should have a time for skipping stones?

Omori: No, no. I am thinking of a time where we go down to the river and do whatever.

Kanjiyama: The stethoscope was too specific.

Omori: I think it was Yoshiro who said it was difficult to write on paper at the river bank.

Hillel: But some of it worked out nicely, didn't it? Listening for sounds and then bringing them back.

Omori: But I saw many families with children who were first graders. Someone announced that we had to go back in seven minutes. Then the mothers started telling the children to hurry up. The children didn't want to do it. It wasn't playful!

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15. Emotional Interactions

Miyata: That happens when families go out together. When we were doing face painting, something really interesting happened. I wanted to paint my daughter's face, but she didn't want me to. She painted my face, but I really wanted to paint her face. I tried and she started crying and ran away. So this sort of thing happens in daily life. This happens a lot. So many things were happening and she was very excited. I was wondering where she was and went up to the third floor to look. I found her sitting by the window alone. She probably didn't want to be alone, but needed to be for some reason. When she noticed that I was sitting next to her, she told me to move away. She was watching the others from the window and we talked about the face painting. I didn't have a chance to paint her face, but at that time, she seemed to feel that she needed something or was missing something. Something happened inside her. We went back together to join the others. This sort of thing happened a lot, here and there, throughout the Playshop. It happened in each family. And what happened depended on the interaction in the particular family. In my case, this incident reflected the relationship between my daughter and me. It was a little happening that took place. So even when we try to do something together, other incidents intervene. The way of dealing with such incidents tells you a lot about the history of the parent-child relationship and the workshop. These incidents don't fit into the preconceived workshop design, so they are something like the porch that we mentioned earlier, neither inside or outside. They exist in the indeterminate space between what we are supposed to be doing and what is actually going on and being able to move back and forth or return. That sort of interplay gave this workshop its meaning.

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16. Selecting the Appropriate Media

Kanjiyama: It is not possible to compete with the grandeur of nature. It has a strong effect on children, an overwhelming power that adults can't grasp. There's a story about a child whose parents took him to the zoo to see a huge elephant, but the child was really fascinated by a small ant walking on the railing. The adults wanted to show the child the elephant because, in their eyes, it was such a wonderful animal, but the child was totally absorbed by the ant on the railing. This sort of thing happens a lot, doesn't it? Before we went down to the river in Yoshino, we were inside, eating and making things. But, when the children went outside, into an open area, with the sound of the river flowing, they were so overwhelmed by nature that what we offered simply didn't interest them. Nature has such a strong effect, doesn't it? I was wondering what would happen. I thought it wouldn't do any good to provide an alternative. But future workshops and museums won't necessarily feature such a powerful natural environment.

Omori: How is the usual nature experience different from what you're thinking of?

Kanjiyama: Yes, that difference has to be defined. If not, then we are just telling the families that they have to spend time outside. What we offer has to be something different.

Miyata: My daughter wanted to draw at the river, but when she got there, the river was flowing and everyone was playing. So, she started playing with rocks and sand and I asked her about the sounds of the different things. In a natural environment, children aren't interested in a type of media like washi. But, after returning to the Neo-Museum, everyone started drawing with such concentration. I was really surprised.

Kanjiyama: There are different types of media that are appropriate for certain places. And, it is important to use media with an awareness of how appropriate they are to a particular place. If not, it becomes meaningless. Adults think logically, so if they are given a piece of washi and have to do something with it, they can. It doesn't matter if they are in the mountains or at a river. Adults try hard to suppress their inclinations with logic. Isn't that what happens everyday? But, children are totally different. If we are going to provide a place, we have to understand this and provide media appropriate to it. This means we have to do some advance research on what will be used.

Omori: We have to think about what type of media to use that will spontaneously stimulate their desire to the greatest degree.

Kanjiyama: Yes, while make utilizing the features of the environment.

Omori: This means giving them a choice to say no if they don't feel the media is appropriate.

Kanjiyama: My thinking on this is a little warped. I think it is actually more interesting to give them something to do that cannot be done in a certain place. I think that will generate something new.

Omori: Even though it wasn't part of the program people started gathering lots of rocks and drawing on the rocks instead of the washi. They made them into cars and other things. They didn't use the media that we had provided, but found their own media and took it to a higher level, using crayons. That was really important.

Kanjiyama: Yes, to that particular child, that particular rock was the best media.

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17. Allowing for the Emergent

Omori: A time and place to create your own media freely... This time, the program schedule was full from start to finish so it was difficult, but that sort of activity may also be necessary.

Ueda: Yes, free time after Playshop, in the true sense. The children in the Fujita family wanted to go back to the river one more time. The adults stayed behind and the two children probably had lots of experiences there by themselves. The activities of the day had been somewhat structured, so after they finished, the children suddenly felt released. They suddenly felt that there was something they hadn't done so that desire suddenly emerged. It is the same with us. We have a session to reflect on Playshop after it is over. The purpose is to discuss what happened at Playshop, but things that weren't contained in the Playshop program suddenly emerge after it is over. We have a meeting, but after the meeting, something else suddenly surfaces. This happens at academic conferences and symposiums. After they are over, people are ready to give their views at the party or in the bar. This time, we watched the small children. Feel the Media didn't seem to have anything to do with them, even though we want them to be more sensitive to media. As soon as they saw the river, it became the media they felt. They jumped in and felt the river. They grabbed some rocks and started drawing. I hope at least one of those experiences stays with them. Playshop designers have certain ideas about what they want participants to feel or experience or what they don't want them to do. But even if designers make suggestions, children will always go off in a different direction. When that happens, Playshop turns into an engawa space. They can rest a little on the porch and then come back when they are ready. The Playshop designers have conceived of a certain flow. Everyone participates, but you can take a break when you get tired, like Kokoro who went up to the third floor for a while and came back after she felt refreshed. Or, when we went to the lake, and she came and joined everybody. I thought it was unnatural that we asked everybody to draw what they felt even though we were all swimming in the river. This wasn't very successful. But, after we went back to the museum, everyone got totally absorbed in drawing. This really moved me. Everyone had a lot to express in their drawings because they had experienced so much at the river. The important thing here is how to make the workshop different from a usual family outing. One way is to hold this kind of session after getting back. This makes it different from what a family would experience if they went to a river by themselves. So everyone drew what they felt after they got back. Everyone was totally engrossed in recalling all that had happened at the river. So, it is our role as designers to plan various activities, make them interesting, and consider the overall rhythm, but we also have to allow more emergent experiences, autonomy, and leeway, and then skillfully blend what emerges from with what we have planned to create Playshop together.

As designers, when we design playful learning environments, we try to plan a lot of interesting and provocative activities. We present them, but sometimes children aren't interested. In this case, we just let them go. But, here we have mainstream activities, engawa activities, empty white spaces so children can go what they want. Today we learned about how engawa and yohaku are important. Yohaku is an empty white space, marginal space, a playful space. We try to make it flexible. This time we only had one day so we organized many activities.

Omori: I also think it is about assimilation and accommodation. First you do the activities and learn, and then you go to the engawa space and you observe others. You begin to process what you have been doing, consciously or subconsciously. And then accommodation and assimilation begin again. We have to allow the children to experience that kind of physical movement also so the unconscious can become the conscious.

Ueda: Perhaps it is time to close this discussion. Does anyone have any final comments?

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18. Respecting the Flow

Kanjiyama: I try to look at the workshop from the entertainment point of view. As an entertainer, you always have to respect the flow of the atmosphere. When I perform in variety theater, I don't know what the person before me did. You have to be ready, and listen and read the audience. This means respecting the flow. For instance, if the person before me talked about the weather and climate, I would start talking about the weather and climate. Then, I would let the audience come into my act.

Hillel: You can't really prepare for that because you don't know what is going to happen.

Kanjiyama: Right, you always have to be improvising.

Omori: Yes, it is also leaving room for others to enter to your thinking or your heart and to be able to improvise on that according to how others are reacting.

Hillel: That is also the basic goal of everything we try to do. We want parents, children, and teachers to be respectful of each others' faces and listen to each other. That's underneath everything we do. Having people listen to each other is the objective of everything that we create, all these tools and spaces.

Omori: Not just listen but hear.

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19. Becoming Media-sensitive

Kanjiyama: Let's say there are more than two directions. We want to go in one direction to follow a certain plan, but the children seem to want to go in another direction. This creates a vector, an area for improvisation.

Ueda: What makes it interesting is that we don't know what is going to happen that day. That is when we should try to do what Hillel mentioned: become activity sensitive or activity-friendly as we talk and interact. I think the word "activity-friendly" is really significant. It means becoming sensitive to different situations and creating something together. First, we have to plan an environment in which this can happen, and then carry it out while staying sensitive to everything that is taking place. This is what Feel the Media is. Being media-sensitive is being sensitive to and respecting the other person. If we can create an environment like this in a natural way, we can become sensitive to different learning and feeling experiences. It is important to explore the extent to which this can be experienced in daily life. This is hard to do just at home or at school, but it's possible in a place like a museum that is media-sensitive, activity-sensitive, and people-sensitive. Being sensitive to everything around you is liberating. It is very important for children to experience different situations like this, and it points out the limitations of what can take place in one day and the significance of these activities. And since there is a limit to what one can do in a day, activities like this become all the more important. It is important to create this sort of place between the home and school, and bring together different activities that are happening all over. I guess it would be similar to a festival, but not like a contest. Interesting activities could take place, showing what kids in Hokkaido or Kyushu are doing, for example. I think we have to create a place like this and take it worldwide.

Kanjiyama: For instance, face painting makes you pay more attention to the face. It makes you see the face without paint. Then you see the face after it is painted. The two faces overlap and you become surprised at how a certain person has been changed. You feel that you want to try it, too.

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20. Designing Play Spaces

Omori: We did many different activities in Playshop, but concentrating on just one would have been enough for one day. We tried to do so many things in one day. That made it a little hard.

Kanjiyama: It was like a table of contents. There were pages and you could look up one. Like that.

Omori: If there were a place like that, different activities could be offered on an ongoing basis and people could just choose what they want to do.

Kanjiyama: The space at Nobuyuki's Neo-Museum is really interesting. Children could play there all day. Let's say, the children become cockroaches and send all the adults outside. When the adults have left, you put food in the center of the room and the children eat. But, if someone comes and turns on the light, the children have to run and hide because they might get smashed. I have done a lot of games like that. That space is really great. It would be great to have a space for these activities and people to lead them.

Ueda: Neo-Museum has been designed with lots of cubbyholes or corners so small groups of people can think and do things together, or hide, in the case of the cockroach game. So, in a space like that, little corners allow people to engage in different activities. This time, the museum was a place to make things and show them to the others. The terrace became a place for communication where people interacted and did face painting. The river turned into an open space like a field. One reason why we decided to have the workshop in Yoshino is that the workshops have not really paid much attention to space, time flow, combining and editing elements of space and time. But this time, there were spaces for little groups to make things, spaces for people to talk, spaces for people show what they had made, and the possibility of interesting combinations. The children and families who take part in the workshop edit the space, time and combine the different elements themselves. So, the most important thing is what kind of space to create. This time, Furukata-san was able to give a lot of movement to the text, but there wasn't enough time. I am sure that Yuko-san wanted to do more interesting things, too. We want to make a place where people can really enjoy themselves. I hope CRN will play a central role in this. That's very important.

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21. Creating a Third Space

Kanjiyama: I travel outside Tokyo quite a bit to different parts of Japan. One thing I notice is that these regions have the buildings, so-called "hardware," but they don't have content or anything that corresponds to "software." The buildings are built by people who don't live there or have no ties to the local area. They just build without a real objective. But, it is the opposite in the United States, isn't it? They have large amount of content, and they build depending on what kind of content they have. They start with content and I think that is great. But, it is the other way around in Japan where the buildings come first. That's because it is a way to make a name for yourself. It is important to make the external accommodate what will go inside. But, now it is the other way around.

Ueda: Let's start tomorrow. There are really so many interesting things we can do. We can exchange views with professionals in various fields. Up to now, when art or performance was introduced into education, someone like Kanjiyama would be invited to give a workshop and the organization was entirely left up to the outside professional. That is the usual way. Professional musicians are invited to give concerts. And everyone thinks they have had an educational experience. But, this time we brought together professional performers, artisans, and educators and tried to come up with something new that each person could not have created alone. The mime workshop and Feel the Media were different. I meant it as a joke, but Furukata-san brought all his equipment and was probably able to come up with that software because he was in Yoshino. In any case, places for this type of experience don't exist now, and they are really necessary.

Hillel: I think we are really ready to begin to start to build the museum.

Ueda: Don't you think we need a place to talk about these ideas on an ongoing basis?

Kanjiyama: Yes, like a salon.

Omori: Yes, we could get together like this every weekend.

Ueda: Meeting in this room, for example, and talking about things like this during this time is similar to the way we conduct workshops. We have a rough scenario that outlines what we want to talk about, and we are discussing our ideas using the workshop as a specific case. Today we came up with great concepts like engawa or the necessity of a kind of in-between space. We have talked about authenticity. We have generated so many good ideas. We have seen that children will just follow their own program. At least, this is what my son, Mitsuki, did. Adults want them to have an educational experience and do it in a certain order. But that doesn't matter to children. When I looked over at those two boys, they were being playful with their own program. It suddenly seemed that what we were doing was just highlighting their playfulness. But this time, Mitsuki didn't really get into it sometimes. Sometimes, Nobuki became aware of this and tried to get him interested. They would get playful all of a sudden, like when they jumped into the river. Their playfulness would reach a peak about three times a day, but they seemed to be sleeping the rest of time. They were really playful during the rehearsals, but did not get too excited during the workshop itself. So, in this sense, rehearsals might be more interesting. This is because people are really absorbed in doing something then. Rehearsal is different from the real workshop so on the day before, so it is possible to play in unintended and unforeseen ways, like the invisible cockroaches in the cockroach game. Adults have to try to create this kind of atmosphere, playing around and trying to have more fun than the next group. We really have to make a space where people can really enjoy themselves. This can't be done in the school curriculum. It is necessary to have a space that is a little different from everyday life, a kind of third space. We understand this now and we can do it. It shouldn't be a finished product right from the start, but it should start with something small, creating an atmosphere like this. For example, a place where people who come to Tokyo, for instance, can go to talk about something interesting or take an one-hour mini-workshop. Someone can offer a cooking workshop over here or we can all play with a fun program that Furukata-san has created. It can be a place where creative professionals test out what they have made. Performers can come to give lessons besides the usual shows. I think that it is really beautiful to see everyone enjoying themselves so much.

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