LEWISTON – Local youngsters will have the opportunity to learn about Japanese paper crafting and folk dancing through a pair of free cultural programs happening during the next two weeks.

On Thursday, April 22, Yoko Moriwaka will teach the ancient Japanese art of origami in a 10:30 a.m. workshop designed for children age 8 to 12 in the Lewiston Public Library Children’s Room. In origami, sheets of paper are intricately folded into whimsical three-dimensional shapes, often depicting animals.

The hour-long craft session will be followed by a brief Japanese story time, during which participants will have the chance to sample green tea ice cream, a popular Asian treat. Space is limited, so those interested should sign up in advance by calling the LPL Children’s Room at 784-0135, ext. 4.

A week later, on Thursday, April 29, Moriwaka will lead a workshop in traditional Japanese dance at 4 p.m. at Bates College’s Hirasawa Lounge, located on the second floor of Chase Hall, Campus Avenue. It is open to youth 8 years and up as well as adults. No prior dance experience is necessary, and advance registration is not required.

Moriwaka is a native of Komatsu, Japan, who came to Lewiston two years ago to serve as a Japanese language teaching assistant at Bates College. She was introduced to the art of origami as a young child, joining schoolmates in the crafting of paper cranes, a traditional Japanese peace symbol.

She learned to do the folk dances of her native country by attending the colorful festivals which flourish throughout Japan each summer. The dance that she will teach in her upcoming workshop is Tanko Bushi, one of the most beloved of all Japanese folk dances. Its gentle, simple movements tell a tale of miners digging under the light of the moon.

Moriwaka is offering these two cultural activities to augment the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries’ “One Book, One Community” program, a month-long series of events focusing on the award-winning book “Snow Falling on Cedars,” which deals with the experiences of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

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