Books About Japan by Tuttle Publishing, and a GIVEAWAY!

17 Apr

IMG_7931 I recently received a few books to review from Tuttle Publishing (thank you!). I was happy to do so because we already own and love “Japanese Celebrations” by Betty Reynolds (blogged about it back in 2011 here) so I was excited to see what else they had to offer.

Did you know that: “The Tuttle Publishing Company was established in 1948 in Rutland, Vermont, and Tokyo, Japan, and is today regarded as a premier publisher and seller of books rooted in Asian culture, language, and history…Today, Tuttle publishes 150 new titles each year in focusing on Asian Languages, Asian Food & Cooking, Gardening & Flower Arranging, Crafts & Origami, Children’s Books, Martial Arts, Asian Literature, Games & Graphic Novels, Asian History & Culture, Health & Fitness, Self-help & Eastern Religion, Asian Art & Collectibles, Interior Design & Architecture, Travel Guides, Maps, and Business Books.​” source WOW! I had no idea they specialized in and published so many books about Asia. There’s over 100 books about Japan alone.

The book I’d like to highlight today is “Cool Japan Guide” by Abby Denson. This one was a surprise favorite. I’m typically not super into comic books, but this one was very informative and fun to read. IMG_7933 Our family is going to Japan again soon, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed thinking about what to pack, what to see, how to get around, etc. This book did a great job of compiling a lot of helpful travel tips! Abby explains what to pack, how to get and use a JR Pass, what to see and eat, manners when using a Japanese bath/onsen, what a homestay is like, etc. I would highly recommend this book to anyone preparing to travel to Japan for leisure/business or for a homestay. It might also make a great gift for someone who loves Japan!

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image from abbycomix.com

The day after receiving this book, I caught my 7-year old daughter reading the book. She loved the comic-book style and enjoyed learning about what to expect in Japan. My father, who is Japanese, picked up the book one day and asked if he could borrow it. IMG_7942 I know we can get a lot of free information online these days, but there is definitely something special about flipping through an actual book. I feel like I learn so much more.

Anyway, would you be interested in winning this book from Tuttle Publishing? They have generously offered to send “Cool Japan Guide” to a Hiragana Mama reader (sorry they had originally said any book, but the company just told me in order for this to be open worldwide, it has to be just this book). To be eligible to win, please visit Tuttle Publishing and write a comment below saying which book(s) look the most interesting to you! Please also include an email address so we can contact you if you win. For a bonus entry, please share this post on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest, then comment saying that you did so. The winner will be announced Sunday April 19. Good luck!

*This giveaway is open to all readers.

Using Labels to Learn Japanese

25 Mar

I recently came upon the realization that I really need to work on my children’s vocabulary. So one night while they were sleeping, I used masking tape+marker to label items around the house in Japanese! When they woke up in the morning, the kids had fun discovering what I had labeled in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedrooms. I think this will help us learn some new words and use them in context. The labels are an eyesore, but I plan to remove them once I’m confident we have mastered the use of that word.

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If you would like to do the same, just walk around your house and write down the things that your kids would not be able to name in Japanese. There may be some words that you’ll have to look up in a dictionary! Use a permanent marker to write the word on masking tape, and stick it on the corresponding item. When everyone in the family has learned the word, you can remove the masking tape.

Print Kids (printable Japanese educational worksheets for grades preK-3)

2 Mar

We have had a lot of school cancellations due to the weather lately (our city’s coldest February in 150 years!). On those no-school days, I’ve had to devise a plan to keep my kids busy and learning. We’ve been printing some worksheets from ぷりんと きっず (Japanese study free paper website). It has activities that are PERFECT for my preschooler and first-grader. I plan to use this site to keep my kids learning during their summer break as well!

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This is just a small sampling of what’s available on the website. There are learning activities for grades preK-3rd grade, with plans to add more. There’s practice worksheets for hiragana, katakana, kanji, telling time, reading a calendar,counting money, etc. You can see all the subjects covered here on their sitemap. Here are the top 10 worksheet from the site:

printkidsYou can “like” them on facebook to stay up to date: https://www.facebook.com/print.kids.net

I encourage you to visit Print Kids and browse around. You are sure to find something for your kids or yourself!

Japanese Party Games for Kids and Teens by Get-Club

5 Feb

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If your kids are anything like mine, they love to have FUN!! And what better way to learn a language than by having fun. I recently happened upon a website called “ゲットクラブ” (Get-Club). It is a site that sells party favors and games, but since we don’t live in Japan, the section that interests me the most are the pages containing party game ideas. Don’t let your kids navigate this website alone, as many of the party games are aimed at adults, but they do have two pages dedicated to party games for children and teens. Some of the games include videos of how to play the game, which is very helpful!

For example, here is the game “たたいて、かぶって、ジャンケンポン!” (Hit,Cover,Rock Paper Scissors):

Here is another Rock-Paper-Scissors game where you WANT to lose, in order to win “あとだしジャンケンゲーム“:

These game ideas would be great for birthday parties, play dates, or a rainy day at home.

Click HERE for a list of party game ideas for kids, and HERE for party game ideas for teens.

You may also be interested in this post, Japanese Children’s Games.

NHK for School!

27 Jan

Dear Hiragana Mama Readers, thank you so much for sticking around! We welcomed a new baby girl into our family a few months ago and have been savoring these fleeting newborn days. I have even less free time than before, but I really wanted to share this website with you today: NHK for School.

http://www.nhk.or.jp/school/

I visited this site a few years ago and back then, it was nothing to write home about. But now, it is a fabulous GOLDMINE of educational resources for the school-aged student. The site contains thousands of educational episodes and video clips, along with suggestions for how to use it at school/home. The content can be searched by grade level (first grade through high school) or by subject (Japanese, math, social studies, science, art, physical education, etc). It is pretty awesome.

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Now, I wouldn’t recommend this site for people who are just beginning to learn Japanese, or toddlers. If you don’t know a little bit of Japanese, it might be hard to navigate this site. The website was designed for students in Japan to supplement their learning at school. This site is perfect for those of us living overseas trying to teach our children about the Japanese language and culture. I feel like this is a great mid-week supplement to Japanese School (hoshuuko). If you can’t afford TV Japan, this is a great alternative. You can read more about the purpose of NHK for School in English, here.

Anyway, if you haven’t already checked it , click this link and enjoy!! http://www.nhk.or.jp/school/

Doraemon on Disney XD

28 Jul
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image from animeherald.com

I’ve blogged about Doraemon (ドラエモン)before, but if you haven’t heard of it, it is a very popular cartoon/comic that has been around in Japan for many many years. The cartoon books are great for kids, and I’ve been looking into getting my 6-year old this Doraemon Kanji Book. 

I was recently clicking through the Disney Channel and had to do a double-take when I saw “Doraemon” in the lineup! I guess Disney X D has started airing an English-language version of Doraemon starting this month (news article by The Japan Times HERE). I’ve set my DVR to record a few episodes, and am excited to see what the show is like in English. You can see a little preview on the Disney X D website HERE.

Here are some of the first episodes of Doraemon in Japanese, with English subtitles.

 

Have you watched Doraemon in Japanese or English?

Kodomo Challenge Live!こどもちゃれんじライブ授業

19 Jul

Just discovered a new TV series by Kodomo Challenge called “こどもちゃれんじライブ授業“, where children can explore many different things like various occupations, yoga, English, animals, etc. The episodes are shown “live” (children in Japan who own the Kodomo Challenge Tablet can participate in the show as they watch).  In Japan, the show is on every Saturday morning. I’m not sure if it’s viewable on any TV stations elsewhere. Here are two YouTube videos I found. The first is an episode exploring a Japanese bakery, and the second is about the mysteries of animals. Enjoy!

 

BONUS Kodomo Challenge Videos, “ともだちできたよ”, “はじめましてこんにちは”, and “リトミック/ダンス”. Watch them quick :) Sometimes they get taken down after awhile.



Anpanman Cake Pops ♥

11 Jul

Over the 4th of July weekend, I went to a BBQ with my family. Several Japanese families joined us. My sister’s contribution to the potluck BBQ were these adorable Anpanman cake pops! They were a huge hit with the kids. You can visit Bakerella.com’s website for basic instructions on how to make cake pops. To make these Anpanman pops, my sister used chocolate cake mix, meltable butterscotch chocolates, round red sprinkles, and a black edible pen.

 

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Imagine the possibilities with all of the Anpanman characters (Baikinman, Melonpanna-chan, etc). Cuteness overload.

Do you love Anpanman? Read my post about my son’s Anpanman-themed birthday party HERE, or about our trip to the Anpanman Children’s Museum, HERE!

 

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ノージーのひらめき工房/Nosy’s Inspiring Atelier

2 Jul

 

One of our current favorite kid’s shows on TV Japan is “ノージーのひらめき工房“, which is listed in TV Japan as: Nosy’s Inspiring Atelier. We didn’t even realize it was a children’s show at first because of the odd name. It is a show that inspires children to be creative with materials they can find at home. It is a great show for preschool through elementary-aged kids. My kids are always inspired to create something after watching the show.

Here is an episode I found on YouTube:

What is your current favorite Japanese children’s show?

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P.S. Don’t forget TANABATA is July 7th!! Click here for my posts about this Japanese holiday.

 

More about tanabata by Kiwi Crate HERE.

by the Japan Society HERE.

Tsuwari: Morning Sickness

13 Jun

I am so sorry for my long absence from blogging. I have been feeling miserable for the past few months. I couldn’t eat much, couldn’t keep down much, lost lots of weight, and had absolutely zero energy to do anything. My children are lucky I fed and clothed them and got them off to school every morning! Maybe some of you can relate.

The happy news is that we are expecting another baby! We can’t wait to see what new adventures being a family of five will bring. And yes, of course, we will be trying to raise this child bilingual too!

I want to dedicate this post to other mothers who may also been suffering from this horrible thing called morning sickness, or tsuwari(つわり). Especially you Japanese-American mommies. I don’t know if any scientific research has been done, but from observing many different women in my life, it seems that Japanese women have it extra hard when it comes to feeling sick when pregnant. I know of several in my circle of friends who were terribly sick the entire 40 weeks of their pregnancies. Most of my Caucasian friends seem to get over it by 12 weeks or so, or they never have it that bad to begin with (of course there are others who are not so lucky).

When I was 12 weeks pregnant, I would read things like, “Your morning sickness should be getting better and going away in the next week or so!” online and in pregnancy books. “Ha!”, I would think. “I think mine is just peaking”. I couldn’t relate to the women who craved ice cream, pickles, and fried chicken. Absolutely NOTHING sounded appetizing or edible to me, not even water.

Then one day I decided to search for remedies on Japanese websites. I typed in something like, “What did you eat when you had morning sickness?/つわりのとき、なにをたべましたか?”. Here are foods that Japanese women like to eat when they are pregnant:

– Cold noodles, like somen, soba, and hiyashi-chuuka

– tomatoes

– watermelon, peaches, nashi (apple-pears), strawberries… can’t begin to tell you how much I wish I could eat momo/もも (peaches from Japan) right now!

– jello, purin, ice, water with lemon

 

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I was relieved to feel that I could probably eat some of those things! I ran to the Asian food store and bought some somen noodles. I think I ate somen for lunch for a week straight. It was great because it only takes 3 minutes to prepare, doesn’t smell, you can eat it cold (hot foods made me extra nauseous), and it goes down easily.

A few weeks later when I was able to eat a little bit more, I started eating hiyashi chuuka (see photo below). I added some tomatoes and cucumbers.

I couldn’t eat most vegetables, but I found that I could eat cold cucumbers dipped in some miso paste. Edamame was how I got some protein into my body since I couldn’t eat meat.

If you become anemic like I did, tofu is a good Japanese food that has iron. You can eat it cold by just pouring some soy sauce over it.

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I found that the popular Japanese recipe site, Cookpad, has a bunch of recipes for those suffering from morning sickness. Click HERE to see them! I hope that as you scroll through the recipes, something might sound good to you. For drinks, I found that I could drink water if it has a slice of lemon in it, or I could drink mugicha (cold barley tea).

I found that I was not alone in my aversion to hot rice! It is really hard to think of what to eat when you are used to having rice with almost every meal. Now at 20 weeks pregnant, I am just now able to start eating rice again, in small amounts.

I just find it funny that when I’m pregnant, I want to eat Japanese food, even though I grew up in America eating all kinds of food from different cultures. Is it just that we crave the foods from our childhood, or is there something in our genetic makeup that makes us want food from our “homeland”?

 

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If you have any advice for surviving a hard pregnancy, please post a comment! I know that every woman and pregnancy are different, so not all advice applies to everyone. But it is still nice to hear that we are not alone. I hope to start posting more regularly. I have TWO kids in Japanese School now(busy!). During my morning sickness I survived graduation and the start of a new school year. I am also on the Activities Committee so I’m helping plan Undoukai (Sports Day). I’ve also been checking out some new and wonderful websites that I can’t wait to share with you! Thanks for sticking around!

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