Kodomo No Hi Videos

5 May

May 5th is Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) in Japan. Here are some videos to help your children learn about this holiday.

A great interactive video by Benesse, 「しまじろうとこどもの日を楽しもう!」<こどもちゃれんじ>4月ライブ授業:

“What is Kodomo no Hi?” (こどもの日ってなあに?)by CHK名古屋:

The classic children’s song associated with Kodomo No Hi by キッズボンボン, 【♪うた】こいのぼり〈振り付き〉【手あそび・こどものうた】Japanese Children’s Song, Nursery Rhymes & Finger Plays:

Read-Alouds about Kodomo No Hi:

A Just-For-Fun Koinobori Stop-Motion animation:

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Book Review: Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen

23 Feb

My sister recently asked me,

“Have you read the Jasmine Toguchi series– beginner chapter books about a Japanese-American girl?”

I had not heard of it, but I immediately got a copy to read. And I loved it!

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The book I read was the first in the series, called “Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen“. It is written by Debbi Michiko Florence with illustrations by Elizabet Vukovic. I was immediately enamored by the main character– a spunky 8-year old girl who is a member of a warm and loving (and sometimes annoying) Japanese family, living in the United States. She reminded me of my own 9-year old daughter, sometimes so much so that I found myself laughing out loud and saying to my husband, “Listen to this! It’s just like our kids!”.

The book has won numerous awards including:

A Junior Library Guild Fall 2017 Selection
An Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of 2017
An Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids List 2017
A Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books 2017
A 2017 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner

There are currently 2 books in this series with 2 more coming soon (Read about them HERE). They are recommended for grades 1-4 (or ages 6-9). My daughter who is in 4th grade (and is a higher-level reader) said she liked the book but “it’s better for 2nd graders”. It is a great way to learn a little bit about Japanese culture in a very relatable way.

I personally would have loved to have had this series when I was a child. There is such a lack of children’s books starring Japanese American families. Author Debbi Florence is a third generation Japanese American and native Californian. She currently resides in Connecticut. If you are interested in having her visit your schools to talk about Japanese culture and the writing process, you can find out how HERE!

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Author of the “Jasmine Toguchi” series, Debbi Florence

You can purchase “Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen” HERE, via Amazon (affiliate link).

This post was not sponsored by Debbi Florence or Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. All opinions are unbiased, honest, and completely my own. 

Japan-inspired Classroom Valentines

24 Jan

Eek! It has been a long time since I last blogged! So sorry. (I post more often on my –> Hiragana Mama facebook page if you’d like more updates!).

So the fall/winter holidays came and went in a whirlwind and now it’s almost Valentine’s Day! At my children’s school, they still exchange valentine cards so I’ve been trying to brainstorm ideas for cards. If you want to be unique, why not try a Japan-inspired Valentine’s card?

For example, use origami. Here are some ideas I found on Pinterest. There are hundreds of ideas on there! Here are my favorites.

First, a unicorn origami valentine bookmark, found at willowday.net.

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Next up, Origami Troll valentines, by PinkStripeySocks.com.

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Aren’t they sooo cute??

Here is an origami Kissing Lips valentine by homemade-gifts-made-easy.com

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You can visit Origami Club to learn how to make basic hearts out of origami: Origami Club.

If you and your kids are not the crafty types, you can always purchase pre-made cards from places like Etsy.

Check out this cute Totoro valentine by Etsy seller playerNo2

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You could also buy clip art from sellers like Cockatoo Design

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Minted.com also has these adorably clever cards that you can order.

Udon Card

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Wasaaaabae (this one is my favorite)

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Check out Minted for even more! (No, not sponsored. No part of this post is sponsored. I just like to find good stuff and share them with you.)

My children’s school doesn’t allow food to be passed out, but if your school allows it, I thought it would be fun to pass out candy like Hi-Chew, interesting-flavored Kit-Kats, or little packs of Konpeito (Amazon Associate links). I have seen some of these foods being sold at World Market, and of course at Asian grocery stores.

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Aren’t these little bags of konpeito so cute? $9.99 for 50 packs!

I am sure you all could come up with some Japan-inspired Valentine’s Box ideas as well. What have you done in the past, and what do you plan to do this year? I would love to hear.

 

 

Learning Kanji With Poop– yes, really

4 Jun

So guess what the #1 bestselling textbook in Japan is? It is:

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日本一楽しい漢字ドリル うんこかん字ドリル 小学1年生” (The Most Fun Kanji Drill Book in Japan: Poop Kanji for First Grade)

I saw this on Amazon Japan a few months ago and had a good chuckle. Someone is a genius! Do you know how much my kids love potty-humor? Hahaha.

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So I was totally on board when my son’s first-grade teacher at Japanese School wanted every student in her class to have a copy of this kanji workbook. And you know what? My son LOVES it. I hear him reading this book out loud to his sister in the mornings. I have to force him to stop working in the book sometimes. Would your kids be motivated to learn kanji if they had a workbook like this?

Here are some sample pages:

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The translation for the first example sentence above is: “Today’s weather forecast is sunny, partly poopy.”

There are unko/poop kanji workbooks for grades 1-6. I’m not sure how many 6th graders would like this learning style, but my first grader sure likes it. They can be bought at Amazon Japan, here (I am not affiliated with Amazon Japan).

You can find out more at: https://unkokanji.com/

“Once Upon a World” : Fairy Tales Reimagined!

17 May

 

Have you happened upon the “Once Upon a World” series yet?? If not, you must! It is a refreshing, delightful new take on the classic fairy tales. The stories are the same, but the characters and illustrations reflect a different culture. So far in the series, there’s Snow White, Rapunzel, and Cinderella.

We are especially in love with “Snow White“, by Chloe Perkins. The illustrations inspired by Japan are just lovely to look at. I love that my little girl can see that someone who looks like her can be a princess too.

Here’s what the Simon & Schuster website has to say about Snow White:

The classic tale of Snow White gets a fresh twist in this debut title of a brand-new board book series, Once Upon a World. With Japan as the backdrop, and beautiful artwork from Japanese illustrator Misa Saburi, Snow White is still the same girl who meets seven dwarves and accepts a shiny red apple—but she’s totally reimagined. Once Upon a World offers a multicultural take on the fairy tales we all know and love. Because these tales are for everyone, everywhere.

You can purchase “Once Upon a World: Snow White” HERE. (Currently less than $5 on Amazon! I might stock up for baby shower gifts)

These are nice board books– perfect for little ones!

(This is not an endorsed post. We found this book at our local library and loved it so we wanted to share. If you use my amazon link to purchase a book however, we will earn a few pennies to help keep this blog running! Thanks!)

Kanji-Learning Videos!

3 May

There’s a lot of hiragana-learning videos for kids, but there’s still very few kanji-learning videos for kids (as of 2017). I hope someone will create some high-quality kanji videos in the near future. In the meantime, here are some kanji videos I’ve found. Mostly geared towards adults but I think kids could benefit as well.

This first video IS geared toward kids but is outdated. It is part of a series called 児童教育 右脳イメージトレーニング (Image Training for Children).

This next video is by Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com, and is very well done.

Learn the Kanji Basics with Williams College:

Learning kanji with animation, by キッズボンボン:

By the Japan Channel:

By 英会話のEnglish Garden:

By Easy KANJI Lesson:

First Grade Kanji by LetsLearnJapanese:

 

If you come across any great kanji-learning resources, please leave a comment!

Super Simple 日本語 Japanese Children’s Videos

1 May

Super Simple has released some great Japanese videos recently. They produce videos in many different languages. I think the translation is done really well! I hope they keep adding more.

 

 

They also have a set of “Mommy-and-Me Japanese videos here.

Back-to-School, Japanese-Style!

9 Feb

 

In Japan, a school year ends and a new one begins in the spring. For my children who attend Japanese School on Saturdays, they have graduation in March and begin their new grades in April. This means that back-to-school shopping happens in February for me! Here are some items that we purchase for Japanese School, that’s different from what we purchase for American School.

1. Randoseru. In Japan, when a child begins first grade, they buy a backpack (usually leather) that is meant to last them for all their elementary school years. These cost anywhere from $100 to $1000!! Since my kids will only be using them once per week, I opted for the less expensive option. I bought this one. I can’t wait to see my son wearing it on his first day of school!

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2. Pencil Case (Fudebako). At my children’s American School, everyone shares supplies so there’s no need to have your own supplies box. But at Japanese School, everyone brings their own. Younger students love these fancy cases with their favorite characters on them (click on the photos to be taken to where you can buy them). My daughter who is almost 9 is past that phase so I got her one without any characters. I recommend looking for items that are Made in Japan.

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3. Suito (Water bottles). Now, I know we take water bottles to American schools too. But I really love the ones made in Japan with the flip-top lids and straps so it’s easy for kids to carry to school and onto the playground. There are so many fun varieties! I personally got my son the Stars Wars one.

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4. Bento Boxes and Supplies. I think part of the reason why my kids still tolerate going to Japanese School on Saturdays is because they love lunch time. Monday-Friday, we make them a traditional American lunch (sandwich) but on Saturdays, I spend extra time making them onigiri, tempura shrimp, tamago-yaki, etc. When I first started, I was totally clueless so this book (Just Bento Cookbook) by Makiko Itoh was a lifesaver.

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There are a lot of other supplies– shitajiki, compass for math, triangular ruler, etc that I’ve had to purchase for Japanese School over the years. You can CLICK HERE to see all the supplies I’ve found on Amazon (I’ll be updating/adding things soon). I love that all these items are readily available for purchase online! Yes I am an Amazon Affiliate which means I receive a small portion of purchases (but you don’t pay more than normal), but I would never recommend anything that I don’t personally love! I’m hoping I’ve saved you some time by having all these products on one page.

Happy Back-to-School Shopping!

Popular American Children’s Shows: In Japanese!

11 Jan

あけましておめでとうございます!Thank you for following my blog, even though I am terrible at posting regularly.

Did you know that many popular American children’s shows are available in Japanese? Shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Curious George, Little Einsteins, and more! And of course all the Disney/Pixar movies like Frozen get translated to Japanese as well. It is a very fun way for children to learn Japanese with their favorite characters.

My toddler’s current favorite show to watch in Japanese is Sophia the First (小さなプリンセスソフィア). I think the translation has been done really well!

 

So how do you find and watch these shows? One option is to search YouTube. This option is free- however, due to copyright laws, it can be difficult to find full episodes.

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A better option is to purchase the DVD’s and Blu-Rays via Amazon Japan. Many of the DVD’s cost between 1000 and 2000 yen ($10-$20) each, with Blu-Rays being more like $20-$30. The advantage of the blu-rays is that Japanese blu-rays can be played in America (not sure about other countries). Japanese DVDs will only work on Region 2 or Region-Free players. My dream is to own all the Disney/Pixar movies in Japanese on Blu-Ray!

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I really hope that someday soon, we will have access to things like Hulu Japan or Netflix Japan so we can stream great children’s shows from Japan. (Dear people who work for these companies, could you please make this happen for all of us parents who are teaching their children Japanese while overseas?)

Anyway, thought I would share, if you hadn’t thought about this before! Don’t forget that Ghibli movies are readily available in America– even at your local libraries!

And lastly, because my kids love watching this… Pikotaro x Sesame Street Japan 🙂

“Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko” book review

9 Nov

I was sent this beautiful book to review. To be honest, it sat on our bookshelf for awhile because we have experienced a death in the family and unexpected busy-ness recently.

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Today I finally had a quiet afternoon to explore “Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko” by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, and Michiko Tsuboi.

And… WOW. I don’t think I can adequately describe how beautiful this book is. Not only is it a book (full) of poetry, but it’s also a biography, a history lesson, a peek into the life of an incredible woman. We learn about the poet Misuzu Kaneko’s life, little by little, followed by an accompanying poem.The language of the poems are simple enough for children to enjoy yet rich enough for adults to ponder as well (I found my 3rd-grader immersed in this book the other day). The second half of the book includes the original poems in Japanese, as well as the English translation. At times like this, I am so grateful to be bilingual, so I can enjoy both languages!

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image from the Poetry for Children blog

 

One of the poems in particular struck a chord with me given our recent circumstances:

 

COCOON AND GRAVE

 

A silkworm enters its cocoon–

that tight, uncomfortable cocoon.

 

But the silkworm must be happy;

it will become a butterfly

and fly away.

 

A person enters a grave–

that dark, lonely grave.

 

But the good person

will grow wings, become an angel

and fly away.

 

Copied from the Misuzu Kaneko website:

Misuzu Kaneko charmed 1920s Japan with the child-like sincerity and empathy of her poetry. But despite her success, she suffered tragedy in her private life and committed suicide at age twenty-seven, after writing 512 short poems. Nearly forgotten for the next fifty years, Misuzu’s work was rediscovered in 1982 and she soon became one of Japan’s best-loved children’s poets. The appearance of her poem “Are You an Echo?” in a public service announcement after the 2011 tsunami achieved instant fame, reminding Japanese of their shared humanity at a time of great national crisis.

The illustrations by Toshikado Hajiri perfectly complement the soft, beautiful words of the book. One could learn a lot about Japanese culture simply by studying the artwork.

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I would love to see this book in every school and library. It would perfectly complement any lesson about Japan, Poetry, or the March 11, 2011 Earthquake/Tsunami in Tohoku. I would recommend it to any parent who wants to widen the world view of their children. It is one of those books that you’ll want to read over and over– one time through won’t be enough! I am a self-proclaimed fanatic of children’s picture books– and can honestly say that this one stands out from the others in its beauty and uniqueness. The purity of her poems really struck a chord with me.

Like I mentioned earlier, I wish I had the words to adequately describe this book. Please read the review by Elizabeth Bird in the School Library Journal— she does a much better job putting her thoughts into words.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, HERE. The hardcover version would be perfect for gift-giving (the paper is high-quality and there’s full-color illustrations cover to cover). It is also available on Kindle and Nook, with an Apple version due out soon.

Thank you, Chin Music Press, for this jewel of a book.

 

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