Women in Japan:
Memories of the Past, Dreams for the Future

Lesson Plans

Women in Japan works well in high school and college classrooms.  It often gives students new ideas and images of Japan and women in Japan.  It encourages them to think about the connections between an individual woman, her desires and choices, and larger forces such as historical events, social phenomena, family histories, and economic change.  Students can pursue thinking about these connections through following the assignments suggested below.  These assignments can work well as individual or small group projects.  Final projects can be presented to the class to further explore questions of the connections between the individual and society, and the challenge of narrating a life story through film.

Assignment One: Building a Story Upon a Story

Let's say you're a journalist on assignment to write a short newspaper article on women in Japan as part of your local newspaper's series, "Women in the World Today."  After watching  Women in Japan, you decide to follow up on ideas mentioned in one of the movie's segments.  (Examples: weddings and marriage in Japan, Filipinas in Japan, Japanese women's volunteerism).  For ideas, go to the film synopsis page of this website, click on each woman's name for websites and articles related to her story.  Choose one angle for further research and start with the ideas available here.  After you have done this research, go back and watch Women in Japan again.  Do you have a new interpretation of the segment that most interested you?  How might your newspaper story on an aspect of "Women in Japan" today compare or contrast with portraits in the film?  How do the media of newspaper and film offer different ways of telling a life story?

Assignment Two:  Imagine a Documentary on Your Life

Filmmakers are coming to your hometown to made a documentary about contemporary student life.  They choose you as one of the interviewees.  In preparation for your interview, give the filmmakers some ideas about how to film your story.

1.  Give three locations where you'd like to be filmed.  Be specific about time of day, exact location, and whether or not anyone else should be there.

2.  Suggest three other people that should be interviewed to give an idea of who you are.  What is their relationship to you and what will they add to the filmmakers' understanding of your story?

3.  The filmmakers would like to give a sense of the times in which you've lived.  What kind of historical footage should they use to do this?  Would it
be scenes of a major historical event, a rock concert, a cultural event in your hometown?  Suggest three kinds of footage the filmmakers should use to place your life story in a certain era and geographical place.

4.  What kind(s) of music would you like to hear accompanying your story?

5.  Give three questions that the interviewers should ask you.

6.  Remember that the filmmakers are interested in the broad theme of contemporary student life.  How do you see yourself in relationship to this idea?

7.  Imagine the future!  What if filmmakers were coming to interview you in the year 2020?  What life story would you like to be able to present then?

Assignment Three:  Imagine Making a Documentary on Another's Life

Let's say you'd like to compete for a grant to make short biographical documentary.  Write a one-page proposal in which you describe the subject of your documentary and why the individual's life is especially interesting for a film.  How would you frame the person's life (historically, socially, geographically) and what aspects of the life and/or the personality would you emphasize?  Who would your target audience for the documentary be and why would you like them to see your work?