Archive | January, 2011


31 Jan


Our family made the oni omen (ogre mask) above to celebrate Setsubun on Thursday. Click here for a B&W version, or here for a blue version. (Can I say again that I LOVE KF Studio?)

Nurieyasan (ぬりえやさん)has oni coloring pages here and here.

NAVER matome (NAVERまとめ)has oni coloring pages here and here.

See my post about SETSUBUN for even more resources!

I’ve already shared this video before, but it’s appropriate for this post :). It is an anpanpan(あんぱんまん) episode where baikinman (ばいきんまん) sings “Oni no Pants” (おにのパンツ)or, “The Ogre’s Underwear.” It is a popular children’s song in Japan… almost all little kids know it!

Here are some lyrics from and my translation (thank you to the reader who pointed out that it is slightly different from the Baikinman version):

鬼のパンツは いいパンツ

(Ogre undies are good undies)

つよいぞ つよいぞ

(They’re strong/durable?, they’re strong)

トラの毛皮で できている

(They’re made of tiger skin)

つよいぞ つよいぞ

5年はいても やぶれない

(They won’t tear even if you wear them for 5 years)

つよいぞ つよいぞ

10年はいても やぶれない

(They won’t tear even after you wear them for 10 years)

つよいぞ つよいぞ

はこう はこう 鬼のパンツ

(Let’s wear them, let’s wear them, ogre’s underwear)

はこう はこう 鬼のパンツ

あなたも あなたも あなたも あなたも

(you and you and you and you)

みんなではこう 鬼のパンツ

(Let’s all wear ogre’s underwear)


Hahaha. Silly song, I know. Catchy though- it’s hard to get out of my head!

Setsubun 節分(せつぶん)

28 Jan

February 3rd of next week is a Japanese holiday called “Setsubun”. Setsubun celebrates the end of winter and welcomes spring. It is a fun holiday to celebrate, especially if you have children. Here are some activities you can do:

1) On the night of Setsubun, it is tradition to throw beans and yell “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” meaning “Ogres out! Fortune/Good Luck In!”(read more here). Traditionally, roasted soy beans are thrown, but I read peanuts can be used as well. One person can dress up like an ogre and others can throw beans at him/her. You can make your own ogre mask here (from Glico), here (Canon creative park) or here ( In our Japanese playgroup, we throw balls/beans at ogres made out of boxes. The kids love it!

2) You can make origami Oni and Fuku here, from origami-club.

3) Another tradition that I just learned about, is to eat makizushi (rolled sushi):

“It is customary now to eat uncut makizushi called Eho-Maki (恵方巻) (lit. “lucky direction roll”) in silence on Setsubun while facing the yearly lucky compass direction, determined by the zodiac symbol of that year.”- from









4) Read more about Setsubun:

In English, here (wikipedia).

In Japanese, here (wikipedia) and here (kidsnet).

5) I thought this Sasae-san episode was very informative about Setsubun. (No.5981「タラちゃん鬼は外」)

(What is Sazae-san?)

6) In our playgroup, we decorated paper cups with stickers, pen, and yarn to make Oni (they became our bean-holders):

Easy-peasy for the toddler crowd. Any other fun ideas?

Next year, I want to make this oni game.

See my post about ONI for even more resources!

か:かたち (Shapes)

25 Jan

まる、さんかく、しかく (circle, triangle, square) are the shapes that I have taught my toddler so far. For older children, click here for a more complete list of all the shapes and their names.

I think this is a cute art activity for preschoolers to help them learn the names of shapes. First, cut out various shapes from colored paper. Then get creative and make animals, buildings, etc! I found the idea at マトリョーシカな日々 blog. has dot-to-dot worksheets where your toddler/preschooler can practice tracing shapes, here.

Isn’t there a song called ”まる、さんかく、しかく”? I seem to remember learning it when I was little but I can’t find it online. Do you know?

Just found another cute video:

お:おおきい、ちいさい  (は:はんたいことば)

20 Jan

おおきい/ちいさい (big/small)、あつい/つめたい (hot/cold)、はやい/おそい (fast/slow)。。。I think learning these “Opposites (はんたいことば)” is a great way for children to increase their vocabulary.

My favorite songs for teaching toddlers the words “big” and “small” (おおきい、ちいさい)are 1)おおきなくりのきのしたで(Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree) and 2)おおきなたいこ (the Big Drum).

Here are the lyrics (click on the name to go to the link):

1) おおきなくりのきのしたで

2) おおきなたいこ

Click here for a video

For older children, I found a game for learning bigger/smaller at んじゃ!JP here.


19 Jan

おはようございます、おじゃまします、いってきます、おつかれさまです。。。There seems to be an infinite number of greetings and polite phrases in Japanese ( I probably have a lot to learn in this area!).  I’m hoping to teach my children these “aisatsu” words as early as possible… and the best way they learn is by example, so I better study up on these words and how to use them correctly!

Here are some websites I found to be informative:

1) The Proper Use of Chopsticks at Shoo Town

2) Wikipedia article about Etiquette in Japan

3) English websites with Japanese Greetings at Yuki’s Page and Nihongo o Narau

4) Series of cartoons about Aisatsu at “Nikkori Aisatsu Ehon”


I also found a coloring page, ”げんきにごあいさつ” at ぬりえやさん.

We  have this book, ”こんなときってなんていう?”, which is an adorable board book about how to use greetings.

I really love how polite all the Japanese people I have met are. The rest of the world has a lot to learn from their culture!


17 Jan

Origami is a fun activity for all ages. I love it because it is inexpensive, (usually)quick, and there’s a project to satisfy everyone from the beginner to experienced folders! According to Yuri and Katrin Shumakov, founders of,

“…Origami helps the development of children: creates conditions of intensive interaction of the brain’s hemispheres and effectively allows development of motor skills of both hands, intellectual and creative abilities.”

Cool beans. If you don’t have origami paper, you can buy some here or, just cut wrapping paper into perfect squares. (I don’t recommend using thick paper for most projects).

Here are some websites I recommend for getting started:


There’s step-by-step origami instructions grouped by category (I especially love the holiday ones), and it even tells you the difficulty level of all projects. (You can change the site to English mode).



This website has instructions as well as some crazy-difficult looking pieces of art made with origami.



This site teaches you how to make paper airplanes out of origami.

You could always make up your own projects too! Have fun!

website: (だっこ)

13 Jan

I just wanted to highlight this website that I found recently, I think this is the company that puts out the popular Japanese baby/preschool magazines ベビーブックand めばえ. My favorite portion of this site is the ”おやこであそぼ” page, where there are activities like fingerplays, crafts, printable worksheets, exercises, etc that you can do with your children, all grouped by age. If you can’t read Japanese, this website might be a little bit hard to navigate.


Another fun portion of the website is the Game Corner (ゲームコーナー), my favorite being the なにかな、なにかな? game where children can learn the names of various food.

I am excited to browse this website some more to find activities for my baby and toddler!

お:おはなしゆびさん (このゆびなあに?)

13 Jan

Many Japanese words that begin with お involve family members (家族): おとうさん (father)、おかあさん (mother)、おにいさん (older brother)、おねえさん (older sister)、おばあちゃん (grandmother)、おじいちゃん (grandfather)、etc. A great children’s song for teaching some of these words is Ohanashiyubisan /おはなしゆびさん, which is the Japanese equivalent of “Where is Thumbkin?”.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

このゆび パパ ふとっちょ パパ やあやあやあやあ
ワハハハハハハ おはなしする
このゆび ママ やさしい ママ まあまあまあまあ
ホホホホホホホ おはなしする
このゆび にいさん おおきい にいさん オスオスオスオス
へへへへへへへ おはなしする
このゆび ねえさん おしゃれな ねえさん あらあらあらあら
イフフフフフフ おはなしする
このゆび あかちゃん よちよち あかちゃん ウマウマウマウマ
アブブブブブブ おはなしする

Click here for a printable PDF of the lyrics+pictures of the actions from

If you want to learn the names of all family members, check out this page at I’ve never heard of half the words on there!

お:おいしい おでん!(and おせち)

12 Jan

When the temperatures drop and snow starts falling, my tummy begins craving a Japanese dish called Oden. I had no idea how to make it on my own, so the  last time I visited Tensuke (a Japanese grocery store), I bought a frozen all-in-one pack. All I had to do was throw everything in the pack into some boiling water for a few hours- and it was delicious! Luckily for me, my Caucasian husband doesn’t like Oden so I got to eat it all 🙂 My husband asked me, “So… what’s all that stuff inside?” Ummm… good question. “I think they’re some kind of fish” was my reply. He mocked me saying, “I wouldn’t eat something unless I knew for sure what it was.”

Good point. So off to the internet I went. I found the best answer at is also the author of I feel like I don’t even need to write anything here, because Makiko has done such a good job explaining what it is, and how to make Oden, complete with beautiful photos. SO… just click here to read her Oden article!

And while you’re at it, check out Makiko’s newest article about Osechi Ryouri (they look SO yummy). Osechi is a dish that is made for New Year’s in Japan. I have been learning about it recently from my friends. You can teach your children about Osechi, then have fun coloring and assembling your own Osechi Ryouri here!

If you want to actually WATCH the process of making oden, I found a video at ifood.TV by cookingwithdog. Here it is:

Cooking With Dog” also has many other How-To vidoes for Japanese recipes such as Christmas Cake, Ebi Fry, Dorayaki, and lots more!


11 Jan

おかあさんといっしょ” is the “Sesame Street” of Japan. It is broadcast every morning on NHK and children have been watching the program for generations (including me!). Even as an adult, I learn something new every time I watch the show, and it is very entertaining. I really like the current hosts of the show, Takumi-oneechan and Daisuke-oniisan. They are adorable! If you subscribe to TV Japan in the United States, you can watch this show (it translates to “With Mother” in English). Here is a list of all the other children’s shows that come with a subscription.

If you’re like me and can’t afford a monthly subscription, you can do what I do and search YouTube for ”おかあさんといっしょ”, “いないいないばー” and other shows.

My daughter and I especially love the various dances/exercises, because they get us off the couch and moving! When she was really young, she loved “Gurugurudokkan(ぐるぐるどっかん)” but now we like more challenging dances like this one (ドンスカパンパンおうえんだん):

If you know some Japanese, the NHK “Kid’s World” website has some fun TV show-related online games and activities.

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