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We lived in Japan and Hawaii (many of Japanese descent) for 5 years. The first thing that pops into my head is the Koinobori - or carp streamers that get hung up on almost every house for the weeks before children's day on May 5th. Each member of the house ( including mom and dad) get a different size and colored fabric carp windsock that gets hung from a pole along with some streamers. There's some history around the day that could be explored and you could make your own streamers as a craft and then hang them up in April as they do in Japan.


There's also Gyotaku which is Japanese fish printing. Fishermen would take fish they had caught and dip in paint and press onto paper or do a rubbing to record size and type. You could probably find some great web resources on that.

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A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno is a favorite here. We also lived in Japan for a while. You could do some simple origami. Look at some of the fancy bento and maybe try to make some yourself. Learn greetings and counting in Japanese. Listen to the Japanese national anthem. Compare how long it takes to get to somewhere they know that is far away (a relatives house that takes a little while to get to maybe) and see how much longer it takes to get to Japan to give them an idea of how far away it is. Watch a Japanese anime. Be careful, some are rather....R rated. Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro are both kid appropriate. Find some pictures of Japanese festivals. Listen to Eisa drums (that's more Okinawan but still part of Japan ;) ).

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We have recently read the following

My Japan by Watanabe

The Way We Do It In Japan by Iijima

Japanese Traditions by Broderick

Make it Work: Old Japan by Haslam has craft ideas

The Golden Thread by Sasaki (folk tales, some a bit surprising, e.g. the one about the birth of Jesus)

Old Man Mad About Drawing - chapter book about Hokusai

Sumi & the goat & the Tokyo Express or any others from this series (it's a bit old and OOP) by Uchida

Allen Say books


We also watched these two nice DVDs

Families of Japan (part of a Families of the World series by Master Communication)

Little Travelers: Japan (best of the 3 part series featuring 2 young girls traveling around; they stay mostly in Osaka in the movie)


My kids are origami hounds.

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Don't forget about Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) that sit in hot springs with snow all around! We also had fun painting blossoming cherry trees.


Here's a Japan library book list:


Turtle Bay by Saviour Pirotta

The Two Foolish Cats by Yoshiko Uchida

This Place Is Crowded! by Vicki Cobb

Journey To Japan (nice pop-up book) by Joan Knight

Night of the Ninjas (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osborne

Dragon of the Red Dawn (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osborne

The Paper Crane by Molly Bang

The Bicycle Man by Allen Say

Taro and the Tofu by Masako Matsuno

A Carp For Kimiko by VIrginia Kroll

How My Parents Learned To Eat by Ina Friedman

The Butterfly's Dream by Ippo Keido

Japanese Children's Favorite Stories by FLorence Sakade

Old Man who Made the Trees Bloom by Jijii

Magic Fan by Baker

Crane Girl by Charles

Painter and the Wild Swans by Clement

Ten Oni Drummers by Gollub

Girl from the Snow Country by Hidaka

Kenji and the Magic Geese by Johnson

Yoshi’s Feast by Kajikawa

Carp for Kimiko by Kroll

Seven Gods of Luck by Kudler

Yoshiko and the Foreigner by Little

Moshi, Moshi by London

Dragon Kite by Luenn

Pair of Red Clogs by Matsuno

Cherry Tree by MacCaughrean

Emperor’s Plum Tree by Nikly

Tea with Milk by Say

Long Silk Strand by Williams

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Learn to count to 10, the colors, and a few simple phrases.


Watch a manga cartoon. Maybe in Japanese instead of English. There is a hamster series that is just adorable that I cannot remember the name of. Research common pets for children there.


Watch YouTube videos of them crowding onto subways.


I think there is a somewhat active volcano there?

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I wanted to elaborate that the Little Travelers' Japan DVD (in contrast to the UK one which lacked this) featured quite a bit on the daily lives of small children in Japan, with footage of them playing (in groups and other organized activities as well as at home with the girls) and preschools. It was really a nice episode, and the girls both liked "shushi." ;)

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The picture book we have enjoyed are


Crow Boy

Grandfathers Journey (Alan Say as mentioned above)

A Pair of Red Clogs (also mentioned above)


The vid Big Bird in Japan is wonderful too.


We had an Asian meal and at it on the floor (using lap desk as our table), and used Chop Sticks.


We use a Cultural Atlas to get a bit more info. We love seeing the *old* Japan in picture books, and then *modern* Japan in the culture atlas. We much prefer the old.


Subjects of interest:


Samurai Warriors,

cherry blossoms,

paper walls,

song birds,


bamboo forest (and the many things that are made with bamboo)


Of course note that Japan is an island, and in the Pacific Ocean.

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I think there is a somewhat active volcano there?


I *think* this is right!


Dd and I read a book called Volcanos a while back. In it there were these children who were going to school wearing hard hats because they just couldn't stop living because of an active volcano. I *THINK* this was in Japan.


Right now my living room is a HORRID mess with oldest dd's belongings that she is moving out (about to get married), so I cannot get to my books in the cabinet. Otherwise I would find the above mentioned book to be sure that it is in Japan.

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There are 108 active volcanoes and many extinct volcanoes in Japan because it's on four tectonic plates (Pacific, Philippine, Eurasian and North American).


Here's a list:



Magic School Bus Blows It's Top goes well with Japan, too. It's a good time to erupt a vinegar,baking soda, dish soap, and red paint volcano!


P.S. Susie...May God Bless your daughter's marriage!

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Thank you so much Christina! She is marrying a strong Christian so we are all happy about that. :) I hope all is well with you and yours!


What is the dishsoap for in the volcano. We have done it with the bs, vinegar and food color, but never dish soap. Does it have some really cool reaction?

Edited by Susie in MS
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What is the dishsoap for in the volcano. We have done it with the bs, vinegar and food color, but never dish soap. Does it have some really cool reaction?


Dish soap makes it thicker and move slower. It makes the vinegar and baking soda last longer as well. I learned it from a Schlessinger Media library video called All About Volcanoes. :)

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Simple origami projects are fun.


You could also introduce furoshiki, which I think of as origami with cloth :), that can be used as reusable wrapping and other things--very appropriate at this time of year. We did this last year with my Girl Scouts and they enjoyed it. Google "furoshiki" and you will get a wealth of diagrams and videos on how to do it. Large scarves from the thrift store should work well. I used large cloth cotton napkins for the Girl Scouts, but the fabric was a bit stiff for the knots. I've since read that something like nylon or silk works best.

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The anime hamster is Hamtaro.


I just bought this Christmas DVD for kicks :-) The holidays are difficult for me. I've been collecting holiday resources that are as different from past holidays as possible. This one is DIFFERENT :-)



I've seen crafts and drawing worksheets for the series. I think the series is a good introduction to Japanese anime for little ones.



Edited by Hunter
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