Quest in Feudal Japan

Jenny Murphy
Choptank Elementary School
Cambridge, Maryland

Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion


     In 1492, when Columbus set out to discover a sea route to China, Japan was not a unified nation.  It was just a collection of feudal kingdoms much like Europe in the Middle Ages.  Your teacher has instructed you to go to the Library/Media Center to find a book that describes the period from 1150 A.D. to 1600 in Japan, but as you enter the room you are engulfed into a whirlwind.  When you are finally thrown clear, you find that you have been transported back in time to Feudal Japan.  The only other person around is an old woman (or man) who strangely resembles your teacher.  She/he hands you a worn manuscript page.  It says - "IN ORDER TO SURVIVE, YOU MUST LEARN THE WAYS OF THE PEOPLE!"


Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion 


The Task

    Congratulations! You have now begun your trek back in time.  By now, you have encountered other time travelers.  You will join up with some of these travelers to form teams that will work together to put your survival plan into action -

  1. Emperors
  2. Daimyos/Shoguns
  3. Samurai Warrior
  4. Buddhist Priest
  5. Shinto Priest

     Each team member will use information from a variety of resources, both on and off-line, to do the research.  You must be historically accurate or the consequences could be fatal.  Remember to take notes as you go along.  These notes will become part of your journal describing your daily life and ultimately, be combined with the other team members experiences to become a survival kit for future time travelers.  The kit will consist of two parts - the journal which will be left when you depart and a game for your friends back home.  Both items will be used to evaluate your work and that of the group.

Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion  


The Process

     Before you and your fellow travelers begin your journeys into your new identities, you will want to brainstorm some ideas about what types of information you might already know that pertains to your new life and what topics you will need to research.  To help you, these are the resources ALL teams will need to review to get a basic background on life in Feudal Japan.

A schedule of activities follows:

Week 1:
- The class and the teacher will discuss the creation of a rubric to be used for evaluation of the entire project.
- Look at examples of different types of rubrics.
- Create a class-designed rubric that is appropriate for this project.
- Complete the individual and group evaluations for this task.

Week 2:
- Brainstorm with your Teammates to explore previous knowledge and to decide what information you need to know to complete the project. (KWL Chart)
- Read and take accurate notes from the required readings and theother resources listed below.
- Search materials relevant to your new life and take notes.

Week 3:
- Share information you have found with other team members and the other teams.
- Discuss with your teammates what a journal or diary should look like and what information should be included.
- Discuss how your team is going to compile the journal (hand written, word processor, etc.)
- Finish and bind your journal. 

Week 4:
- As an entire group, we will discuss the pieces that go into creating a game - what the game board will look like, how the game pieces will move.  The goal is to complete your journey through time and return to your starting place - the Library/Media Center.
- The game pieces will be based on the group you researched. Therefore, each team will be responsible for deciding on a symbol that best represents the team identity.
- Each team will also create 20 color coded cards based on their research.  The events that befall the players will be dictated by the luck of the draw and what your team chooses to include on the cards.
- Create the game.


Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion




     There are many sources that will help you with your project.  The ones listed below will guide you through your journey. In order for everyone to get a chance to use all of the materials,  the resources have been set up in stations, just like milestones you see along the side of the road when you are on a real trip.  Check the schedule on the wall to see the days destination for your team.

Web Sites:
Religion in Japan

Books: Print Resources
294.3 PEN  Buddhism by Sue Penney
398.2 MAR  Mysterious Tales of Japan by Rafe Martin
398.2 SAN  Samurai's Daughter by Robert San Souci
915.2 DAH  Japan by Michael Dahl
915.2 PIL  Focus on Japan by Mavis Pilbeam
952 KAL  Japan - the culture by Bobbie Kalman
952 KAL  Japan - the land by Bobbie Kalman
952 KAL  Japan - the people by Bobbie Kalman
952 MAC  A Samurai Castle by Fiona MacDonald
952 NAR  Traditional Japan by Don Nardo
952 RIC  Japan by Adele Richardson
952 TAM  Journey Through Japan by Richard Tames
952 WHY  Countries of the World - Japan by Harlinah Whyte
952.025 DOR  The Japanese by Claire Doran
Samurai, The by Anthony Briant
Samurai: 1550-1600 by Anthony J. Bryant
Samurai by Paul Collins
Among Samurai and Shoguns: Japan, 1000-1700 A.D. by Editor of Time-Life Books
Japan by Carol Green
Shinto by Paula Hertz
Samurai's Tale, The by Erik Christian Haugaard
Boy and the Samurai, The by Erik Christian Haugaard
Revenge of the Forty-Seven Samurai, The by Erik Christian Haugaard
Sword of the Samurai: Adventure Stories from Japan by Eric A. Kimmel
Ancient Japan: What Life Was Like for the Ancient Japanese by Fiona MacDonald
Knights and Battles by Richard Tames
Buddhism by Anita Ganeri
Buddhism by Madhu Bazaz Wangu

294.3 BUD  Buddhism: The Middle Way of Compassion and study guide.


Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion




     Participants will be graded both individually and as a group.  This will be done using the rubric that was designed by the class during Week 4 of the project and it will pertain to your notes and group journals.

The class will also access the game board according to the following guidelines -

  • Overall Project Presentation - neatness, completeness, clarity.
  • Historical information - accurate, good quality, informative.
  • Learning Experience - fun, interesting, worthwhile.


Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion




     By compiling your journal and developing a game based on your journey, you, your team and the class will have learned about life in Feudal Japan.  You will have also learned to use a variety of resources to help you successfully complete your task just as real researchers do.  By creating Quest in Feudal Japan, you and your team have gained a more realistic understanding of what life was like in a different time and place in the world.  It has also allowed sharing of information within the class as well as with everyone who plays the game in the future.



Last updated: 9/30/05
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