I’m itching to visit Japan again. Oh how I wish I could be one of those people who can go every year! I was looking through our Japan Trip 2012 pictures and realized I never shared pictures from our day in Kyoto.
Kyoto would be a wonderful place to visit as a couple, by yourself, or with friends… but it is also very kid-friendly. There are many things to see and do and it is very walkable. Not to mention just GORGEOUS! You can’t fly all the way to Japan and NOT see Kyoto. We only had one day to spend in Kyoto, so we went to see Kiyomizudera and the surrounding area.
(not super stroller-friendly)
If you visit Kyoto, be prepared to eat a lot of delicious food and buy beautiful souvenirs.
Would you pay a thousand dollars for this Totoro stuffed animal?
Kyoto is one of my favorite places in Japan to visit. Next time, I would love to spend several days there… perhaps in the fall to see the 紅葉 (leaves changing colors).
I’m going to start saving my pennies so we can go to Japan again! Does anyone in Japan want to offer my non-Japanese speaking husband a job? LOL.
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!
Every year, the Japanese School we attend hosts a “Fun Fair” for its students and surrounding community. At this event, children travel around to different stations to play games, make crafts, wear kimonos, and participate in many other activities to help them better understand the Japanese culture.
Like all the other activities at Japanese School, this event is run by parent volunteers. Something I love about Japanese culture is how efficiently everyone works together. As I helped put up decorations for this event, I looked around and marveled at how hard and cooperatively everyone was working to pull this off for our kids. I didn’t see anyone sitting around or trying to get away with doing as little as possible.
Some of the stations were:
1) Japanese calligraphy (しゅうじ)
2) Origami (おりがみ)
3) Paper-airplane making (かみひこうき)
5) Yo-yo-scooping (ヨーヨーつり)
6) Super-ball scooping (スーパーボールすくい)
7) Tea Ceremony
8) Wear traditional kimonos/yukatas
9) Kendama (けんだま)
10) Hane-tsuki (はねつき)
11) Kendo (けんどう)
12) Karuta (カルタ)
13) Fukuwarai (ふくわらい)
14) Spinning tops (こままわし)
15) Used (Japanese) books sale
Does the Japanese School near you host events like this?
A simple & straightforward way to teach hiragana to toddlers! Repetition really is a great teaching tool!
video by babylionmovie on YouTube
Recently, we took the kids to a Japanese restaurant, where they ordered a bowl of ramen. I was delighted when the waitress brought them some training chopsticks. As I studied the chopsticks, I realized it is super easy to make yourself! It took me a few tries to get the tension just right, but it WAS really easy. So the next time you go out to eat at an Asian restaurant, just take along a rubberband (or hair tie) and you are ready to make your own training chopsticks in just a few minutes!
I made you a short video so you can see exactly how it’s done:
After I published my video, I saw that a few others have made similar videos. You can watch them all to see which technique works best for you ;)
Please share with your friends who have children, or adults who have yet to master the art of using chopsticks!
P.S. Eating Japanese food with a fork is silly. Learn to use chopsticks! (past post about training chopsticks here)
Click HERE and scroll down to see how to use real chopsticks.
Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in a month! Blogging has been taking a back seat to other priorities for now. I know I have received a lot of emails that I haven’t replied to… I am so sorry :(. The older I get, the more I am learning it’s ok to say “no” to some things in life so I can be a peaceful, happy mommy and be able to devote quality time to myself and my family. Some things our family has been up to: back-to-school (kindergarten and preschool!) for my kids, new after school activities, apple-picking, costume-making, jury duty, birthdays, Zumba, business trips, and of course, learning Japanese ;).
I am planning to blog about Undoukai (Sports Day at Japanese School), how to make your own training chopsticks, reading-aloud to your kids, good Japanese books we’ve read recently, traditional Japanese games, etc, so keep checking back. In the meanwhile, check out my past posts about Japan-inspired Halloween costume ideas and How Halloween is celebrated in Japan.
I’ll also leave you with these Shimajiro videos I watched with my son this morning. The theme of these videos is greetings/あいさつ… something my kids need to work on. These videos are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!
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! :)
Today I want to share with you an adorable Japanese music duo that creates music to get kids and parents moving! They are called Keropon’s (ケロポンズ), and here’s their group’s description from their website:
(My rough translation: “Creating music, play, dance, and everything else that children and parents can enjoy together– it’s so fun it’s out-of-this-world!”).
Here’s one of their music videos, called エブカニクス(Shrimp-Crab-Exercise):
Click HERE to browse more of their fun music videos.
See how a Japanese Preschool in Los Angeles (Suika Preschool) used this song in their classroom:
I’m going to try some of these songs with my kids today!
Here is a list of great printable kanji practice sheets! On all of these sites, the kanji are divided by grade level. Master the First Grade (一年生) kanji, then go to the next level. Please leave a comment if you know of any other great websites or resources for learning kanji.
1. Happy Lilac
Happy Lilac also has other great printables for elementary-aged children HERE.
2. 子育て、ことば育て (Kotoba.littlestar.jp)
(This website might be by the same people who made the Happy Lilac website… they look very similar)
This website doesn’t have printables, but has great interactive games for reviewing kanji
Hiragana Practice Sheets
Katakana Practice Sheets