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Japanese Plus One-Evening Special: Add Colour to your Japanese

Twenty-two participants came to the Japan Foundation London on February 14th for a very special, one-off Japanese Plus workshop on wa no iro – the colours of Japan – hosted by Yuko Hayasaka,  editor-in-chief at the Visual Design Institute. The workshop not only gave participants an insight into Japanese colours, but also the opportunity to practice advanced Japanese with help from Hiroko Tanaka, Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation London.

The workshop began with a game to match colours with their names in Japanese; a challenging task, as it was hard to imagine what colours with names such as 「縁色」(yukari-iro, “the colour of affinity”) and 「薄花色」(usuhana-iro, “light flower colour”) could be like. After matching the colours, the participants practiced their Japanese by expressing what meanings each colour could have, and what feelings they evoked.

Hayasaka-sensei then went on to explain the history and meanings of the colours, taking examples from classical Japanese poems (written in the original classical Japanese). In keeping with Valentine’s Day, the participants discovered that many of the colours had very romantic associations.  

We would like to thank all the participants for coming, and Hayasaka-sensei for her unique insight into the world of Japanese colours.

If you are Japanese learner of approximately JLPT Level 2/N2 or above and are interested in taking part in future Japanese Plus courses and workshops, please click here to sign up to our monthly e-bulletin to receive notifications of this and other Japan Foundation events. Click here to read more about Japanese Plus and view reports of previous workshops.