Is your town as frozen as mine right now due to this “polar vortex”? It is the coldest it has ever been in my entire life. This morning it was -6Fahrenheit, with wind chills at -40 degrees!! School and work has been cancelled, there’s ice covering the inside of our windows, and our dog who normally begs to go outside wants to stay in. Brrr!! On top of that, we are taking turns battling the flu– awesome! Hope you all are warm, healthy, and safe.
We had a wonderful holiday break and watched a lot of movies. Our family favorite was “Frozen” by Disney! I am itching to go see it again, I am so in love with the music. Out of curiosity, I checked to see if I could find Japanese lyrics to any of the songs (the movie isn’t due to be released in Japan until spring). It looks like they are keeping the songs in English, even in the Japanese version of the movie (correct me if I’m wrong), with the Japanese translation at the bottom of the screen.
The Japanese version of “Frozen” is going to be called “アナと雪の女王 (Ana and the Snow Queen)”. I would love to see it. It is always fun for me to re-watch English movies in Japanese and notice how all the words were translated. Click HERE to go to the Japanese “Frozen” website. Warning: the trailer includes a ton of scenes from the movie.
2/5 EDIT: Here are the Japanese versions of the songs!!
Click here to see more!
When you were a child, did your parents ever ask you to run an errand (おつかい) for them on your own? I vividly remember going to the department store in Tokyo to buy some bread, all by myself… and I was only 4 years old! I felt like such a big girl! I even walked to my piano lessons by myself at that age. If you’ve ever visited Japan, you know that even today, young children take the train to school by themselves.
In this day in age in America, not only would this seem unimaginable, but downright dangerous to send a preschooler out by themselves. I don’t even let my kids play in our yard without me out there with them. (Oh how it would be nice to go back to the “good old days!”).
Anyway, “Hajimete no otsukai”, or “My first time running an errand by myself” is a pretty big milestone to some families in Japan. I recently found out that there is a TV show called “Hajimete No Otsukai/はじめてのおつかい“… the show has been around for over 20 years! TV Japan aired one of their specials recently and my kids were GLUED to the show! My kids must have been thinking, “What? A kid like me going shopping all by themselves? That is crazy!”. It was an adorable show! Here’s one of the older episodes found on YouTube:
You can watch an entire 3-hour long special HERE.
One of my favorite Japanese children’s books is also called “Hajimete No Otsukai“. I think the book might have inspired the TV show.
I’d love to know about your “first otsukai” experience, if the country you live in is safe enough for kids to run errands by themselves, or any other thoughts you may have!
It has been a few months since we signed up for TV Japan (cable TV channel). It has been worth the investment for us. I do wish there were more shows available for school-aged children (most of the kids’ shows are geared toward toddlers) but I feel that replacing most of our TV time with Japanese instead of English shows has helped my children speak more Japanese at home. My kids’ (ages 3 and 5) favorite shows are Pitagora Switch, Design Ah, and Kid’s Discovery.
image by NTV
Our newest obsession is a show called Shimura Zoo (天才！志村どうぶつ園）by Nippon Television Network. It is a great show for all ages! The show is about celebrities taking care of adorable baby animals. I like that there’s lots of subtitles so we can practice reading Japanese too :). A lot of the episodes are available on YouTube for those of you who are not subscribed to TV Japan.
The only downside of this show is that my children now beg me to buy a pet every day…
Ashida Mana-ちゃん is the sweetest, cutest 8-year old girl. She has starred in TV shows, movies, and music videos in Japan. Little girls love her, including my daughter. Learning the lyrics to her songs might be one way to build Japanese fluency :).
Here’s some of our favorite songs:
And of course, the most famous “Maru Maru Mori Mori” song (click to view). Do your kids listen to any Japanese singers? Who do you recommend?
We were inspired by a segment of Pitagora Switch/ピタゴラスイッチ (Japanese children’s TV show) called “こんなことできません” (translation: “You can’t do this”). Basically, you think of something that humans normally wouldn’t be able to do, and use stop-motion video to make the impossible happen! Our camerawork isn’t great but my 5-year old daughter and I had fun making it. You can see other examples on the show’s website. If you make your own video, please share with us!
Here are some videos made by other YouTube users:
This morning we spent our TV time watching a Japanese show called “シャキーン！(Shakiin)” via YouTube. It is a 7am show designed for elementary-aged children to help wake their brains up in the morning. It has been entertaining and educational for me as well. Here’s the description of the show by NHK:
子どもたちを “シャキーン！”と目覚めさせて、楽しい一日のスタートを切ってもらう知的エンターテインメント番組。「いつもとは違うモノの見方」や「柔軟な発想力」が 楽しみながら身につきます。舞台は、雲の上まで突き出した木の上にある謎の秘密基地。愉快な仲間、ジュモクさん、あゆちゃん、ナオト、ネコッパチが、学校で友だちと話題にしたくなるようなトピックを次々と紹介します。クイズにアニメにエクササイズ、即興ゲームや思わず考えさせられてしまう歌など、子どもたちの五感や記憶力・観察力・表現力を育むコンテンツが盛りだくさん。朝から「ハッ！」としたり、「へえ」とうなるバラエティに富んだコーナーで、「体の目覚め」と「心の目覚め」を促します。
(Can’t read Japanese? Try using Google Translate)
You can watch a few Shakiin episodes below:
Have you heard? NHK just announced a new children’s show called おとうさんといっしょ/”Otousan to Issho”. It is scheduled to begin airing in April.
I am so excited to see what the show will be like!
Here’s what the NHK website says about it:
I sure wish we had cable+TV Japan so we can watch it right away. If I find any episodes on YouTube or elsewhere, I”ll be sure to share with you on this blog. If you are not familiar with the original children’s show, おかあさんといっしょ/Okaasan to issho, check out this post.
Here are some more Nontan videos for your little ones!! We all love げんきげんきノンタン at our house
One of my kids’ favorite non-Japanese TV shows is “SuperWhy!”. It is a show where cartoon characters solve problems using stories from fairytales and folktales while teaching children the ABC’s.
As I walked by my kids watching SuperWhy! this morning, I had to do a double-take when I saw the story of ももたろう/Momotaro on the show! I thought it was SuperCool! that they chose a Japanese folktale for an episode. They didn’t pronounce “Momotaro” correctly, but oh well. It is an older episode (season 1 episode 56). If you are interested, you can watch it via Hulu HERE.
If you want the REAL story of Momotaro, or “Peach Boy”, you can watch the video below:
This story is a great one to share with your children in preparation for the upcoming Setsubun holiday (February 3), because it will familiarize your children with “oni” (ogres). Other good Japanese children’s stories with ogres are “こぶとりじいさん/Kobu Toru Jiisan” and “いっすんぼうし/Issunboshi”.
Click HERE for a printable mask of Momotaro and other Japanese folklore characters, and HERE for a coloring page.