Day of the Western Sunrise: A Kamishibai-Inspired Documentary Film and Educational Toolkit
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Kayla Thoma ESL teacher
The Day of the Western Sun is a curriculum about the first in a series of thermonuclear detonations called Operation Castle. It was tested on March 1st 1954 at 6:45am. The curriculum includes a documentary film and a pamphlet. The documentary tells the story of the three surviving crew members of the fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru. The films presents the story in the style of Kamishibai. Kamishibai is a way to tell a story. Its told through storyboards and a miniature stage. The pamphlet is broken into three sections. The first is the introduction that gives a background into the history of the event, the film, the surviving fishermen, the filmmakers, and the director. Then it includes pre-screening lessons. There are two lessons that are about Nuclear Warfare and US/Japan relations. The last section is the post-screening lessons. These include lessons about history and storytelling. The pamphlet also gives a worksheet for students to fill out as they watch the film.
I teach ESL in a high school, middle school, and elementary school. This is a very informative curriculum. This would be very good to use in a high school history or language arts classroom. I could also use it in an ESL classroom to extend what they are learning in class. In the middle school and elementary schools, the curriculum can be used to learn how to tell Kamishibai style stories. The post lessons include lessons on storytelling and how to make Kamishibai stories.
Review of Day of the Western Sunrise Toolkit
Julia Kordesich (Knihnicky)
Sacred Heart Elementary School
6th-8th Science and Religion
The "Day of the Western Sunrise" is a Japanese-language (with English subtitles) documentary that tells of real life story about 3 fishermen who were onboard the Japanese tuna trawler Daigo Fukuryu Maru, or the Lucky Dragon No. 5. The three fishermen survived the nuclear explosion at Castle Bravo in the Pacific Ocean, which remains the largest and most powerful nuclear weapon detonated by the United States. The fishermen aboard the trawler started to experience radiation sickness and, after they returned to Japan, were quarantined for 15 months. This had a devastating effect on their lives, including being shunned by friends and family and forced into hiding. The documentary includes interviews with the survivors and corresponding animation that portrays how their lives were forever changed while showing the long-term impact of this devastating event.
The corresponding educational toolkit provides 6 lessons meant to accompany the documentary for classroom use. Each lesson includes an overview, essential questions for discussion, background information, and activities up to and including analysis. These 6 lessons is an interdisciplinary unit that covers science, history, english language arts, and STEAM. This education toolkit is a comprehensive, 1-2 week unit that is culturally informed and self-contained with opportunity for connections with other curricula. It is very easy to connect this to student interest through the Manga and animation, as those are popular among middle and high school students, while also being multi-sensory, which research shows is one of the best ways for students to retain information and long-term memory.