Want to make creations as awesome as this one?


by Velina Hasu Houston

The Matsuyama Mirror

Essential Questions

  • What are the key literary elements in "The Matsuyama Mirror"?
  • How does this folktale reflect Japanese culture and values?

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will analyze the Japanese folktale "The Matsuyama Mirror" to identify key literary elements.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of the story by discussing its themes and cultural significance.

Lesson Standards, Objectives, and Essential Questions

Lesson Standards

CCSS: L.7.4.AL.7.4.CRL.7.1RL.7.10RL.7.2RL.7.3RL.7.5RL.7.7SL.7.2W.7.1.AW.7.1.BW.7.2W.7.3






Velina Hasu Houston (b. 1957) was born to an American father and Japanese mother, and grew up in an American household modeled after Japanese traditions. She is a playwright, poet, essayist, and professor of Dramatic Writing at USC. In this excerpt, a Japanese man named Otoosan returns to his village of Matsuyama after a journey, bearing gifts for his family. But he also bears the news that his wife has died in a riding accident—news his daughters do not yet know. When he must give them the news about their mother, he tries to comfort their grief with reassurances and gifts. Aiko’s gift in particular proves to be very useful for connecting to her mother’s spirit.Watch Study Sync Video

Japanese folklore encompasses the informally learned folk traditions of Japan and the Japanese people as expressed in its oral traditions, customs, and material culture. In Japanese, the term minkan denshō is used to describe folklore. The academic study of folklore is known as minzokugaku.

  • Have you ever heard of any Japanse folklore tales?
  • If so, put them in the chat!


  • Aiko’s Chorus of Dolls:

More Cast

  • AIKO

Cast of Characters

1600s. Matsuyama, Japan; and a magical world.


This play takes place in a setting in which nobody has ever seen a mirror before. When Tooriko exclaims that the mirror is “black magic,” Otoosan corrects her by saying that it is “healing magic.” What does he mean by this? Why would he decide that Aiko needed this magic more than her sister or himself? At the end of this scene, Tooriko tries to blow out the candle lighting their home, but Aiko stops her, even though she has no practical need for the candle. What might be the reason for this?


The sisters hear the sound of horses outside and shortly, their father Otoosan enters, covered in snow. The daughters greet him, but Aiko is anxious to greet her mother as well. Otoosan tells the girls that their mother has died after falling of her horse. Aiko becomes angry, asking how he can sit there like a piece of stone. Otoosan replies that he must bear the pain of the family so that they can all go on. Aiko swears she loved their mother more, but Otoosan says he’s loved her longer. He has also brought presents for the girls. Instead of sitting around crying, he insists they open them. Tooriko receives a scarf and he tells her to wear it now—not to save it for the future. Aiko, in turn, receives a mirror—an object that hasn’t been seen in their town before. Otoosan tells her that when she looks into, she can see her mother as a young woman. Tooriko is scared of the mirror, but Aiko hears a spirit when she looks into it.




Day 2

Essential Questions

  • What is the purpose of an informational pamphlet?
  • How can we effectively organize information in a pamphlet?
  • How can we engage the reader through visuals and text?

Lesson Objectives

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to create an informational pamphlet about "The Mirror of Matsuyama" that effectively conveys key information and engages the reader.

Lesson Standards, Objectives, and Essential Questions

Lesson Standards

CCSS: L.7.4.AL.7.4.CRL.7.1RL.7.10RL.7.2RL.7.3RL.7.5RL.7.7SL.7.2W.7.1.AW.7.1.BW.7.2W.7.3

  • You will be creating a Story Brochure. A brochure is an informational pamphlet or leaflet with a picture and information on a subject.
  • Brochures are a great way to package information in a simple, eye-catching design that attracts potential customers. Create an informational brochure about this “Story”
  • In Kami you will complete a template that includes the following:
    • Origin
    • Main Theme
    • Characters
    • Setting
    • Summary
    • Favorite Part
    • Outcome