Ah, field trips. My school is full of them! I’ve never seen so many field trips for a Kindergarten class. I’m not complaining, my best memories as a child were from field trips!
During my first week, we went to a katsuobushi factory. Katsuobushi is also known as okaka; it is dried, fermented and smoked fish. Katsuobushi is used to make dashi, the broth base of many Japanese dishes. Miso soup is made with dashi, and the children have made their own dashi stock in class, so they decided to visit an actual factory so that they could see how the katsuobushi was actually made.
A factory worker took the kids through in groups and explained how the fish were dried and processed. It was fascinating. I was like one of the kids too, everything was new to me! And yes, it overwhelmingly smelled like fish. Fermented fish at that! I had to calm myself down when I first entered because the smell was so strong.
There were bins of fish everywhere. I have to admit, it didn’t look the cleanest. While the factory makes katsuobushi, they also dry a type of small fish. The children eat this as a snack sometimes at school.
After the fish were dried and fermented, they become very hard. There were several machines filled with the fish that shaved them into little flakes. It was as simple as that! The kids loved seeing the fish being shaved into the katsuobushi and were able to get a very close look at the machines.
I was really surprised that the children were allowed to go into the factory and get very close to the equipment… at one point we even hopped down from a platform. I can see it being way too risky for America! I’ve noticed here that the parents are much more chill about their children getting hurt, and the children don’t really act out of turn during the outings. It is a big difference from US classrooms! After we finished our tour, they gave a poster they created of their time making the dashi stock as a gift to the factory. The factory was really generous and gave two huge boxes filled with katsuobushi to the children! It was a great experience for all involved. 🙂
I’m really lucky to visit Japan as a teacher. I get to do so many interesting things that I wouldn’t even think of!