Archive | February, 2011

Ichigo Daifuku (いちごだいふく)

28 Feb

I made ichigo (strawberry) daifuku in honor of Girls’ Day/Hinamatsuri. Sweet mochi, strawberries, and anko… yummy!

I’ll take you through the process of making these things. It was my first time in awhile so I made some mistakes and learned from them.

Here are the main ingredients for ichigo daifuku. If you live in an ethnically diverse area, chances are good that your local grocery store will have mochiko in their Asian section. If not, I would try an Asian grocery store. I made my anko from scratch using azuki beans BUT I highly recommend taking the shortcut and buying premade anko paste. Making it from scratch was time-consuming!

You’ll want to get all your ingredients ready before you begin. Have your strawberries washed, dried, and cut, make the anko, etc. Once you begin, you can’t really take a break in the middle of this.

I followed the ichigo daifuku recipe from (I didn’t follow it exactly though).

First I mixed the water, sugar, and mochiko together in a bowl (it looked like thick glue):

Then I microwaved on high for 2.5 minutes until it was thick and formed a ball when mixing, like this (make sure you mix it really well to avoid hard clumps in your mochi):

Then I used kitchen scissors to cut the ball into 8 pieces. They weren’t all exactly the same size, but that was ok because my strawberries were all different sizes too.

I dusted my working surface with mochiko because I didn’t have any katakuriko (potato starch). The mochiko has a funky texture though, so next time, I think I will use a corn starch/powered sugar mixture instead for a softer feel.

Let these rest for one minute because they are REALLY hot straight out the microwave. But you’ll want to start wrapping the strawberries as soon as you can handle them, otherwise, they will get too hard.

Then I flattened each piece, stuck a small spoonful of anko in the middle, placed half of a strawberry on top, then stretched the sides together to form a ball. Don’t flatten the mochi too thinly or it will tear and not look pretty. (Also, I learned that smaller strawberries are better. The bigger ones were hard to wrap).

If you do it just right, you’ll be able to see a hint of pink through the translucent white mochi:


* Add a drop of red food coloring before microwaving for pink daifuku.

*Une-Deux Senses made very pretty green tea-strawberry daifuku here.

*Instead of anko, dip the strawberries in white chocolate then wrap in mochi.

* Instead of anko, put strawberries and Nutella inside.

* Use a different fruit. I’ve done raspberries+white chocolate before, and it was AMAZING.

* If you work quickly, you could wrap some ice cream inside the mochi for mochi ice cream. MMM.

I’m off to a Hinamatsuri Playdate now, but I will post the full recipe for you later.


25 Feb

Counting in Japanese can be complicated. It is confusing to know when four is supposed to be よん or し and when seven is supposed to be しち or なな. When counting from 1-10, it seems that it doesn’t matter which one you use (strange).  People usually avoid saying “shi” for 4, because it sounds like the word “death.” Superstitions in Japan is a whole ‘nother topic…

ANYWAY. I’m going to keep things simple for my kids for now and teach them how to count to ten in this manner:











In the meanwhile, I’m going to study up on larger numbers by studying this great chart from The Japan Foundation and this chart on how to count various objects/かぞえかた (also from same site) and try to use them correctly whenever I can so my kids can start hearing what correct counting sounds like. I guess it’s similar to how we have different counters like “a head of lettuce” and “a pair of pants” in English. But it seems the Japanese have a whole lot more. I think I read somewhere that there are over 600 different ways to count things!

I really like this video:

Here are more websites about counting in Japanese:

1) 数の数え方 from TAKAO-SP

2) 数え方 from Asako lida’s HomePage

3) An article on counting from (lots of kanji)

か:かず(数)Counting in Japanese Videos

24 Feb

I’m pretty sure you’ll learn how to count to 10 in Japanese if you watch these cute videos!

These videos are by Jun Egusa of怪盗ねこぴー Check out the website- it is full of other educational videos for learning hiragana, kanji, science, Japanese history, etc. AWESOME. It also has a lot of great learning resources… I don’t have time to explore it all right now but maybe I will do a post about it another day.I found the site through TheHimitsu’s Channel on YouTube.

More YouTube vidoes about counting in Japanese here and here.

Another post about counting in Japanese coming soon!

く:くだもの Fruit

21 Feb

Just thinking about the sweet, juicy, delicious fruit in Japan is enough to make me want to splurge on a plane ticket over there! Seriously, why is it that fruit over there seems to taste so much better? The peaches (もも) in Japan are to die for… *drool*!! And I have yet to find melons, pears, or persimmons that taste nearly as good in the United States. And don’t even get me started on their juices. YUM.

I am going to teach my kids the names of fruits in Japanese this week. Want to join along? Here are some resources I’ve found:

1) “5 A Day” is a program in Japan that strives to educate children about the importance of eating fruits and veggies. They have a page of printable activities that includes a matching game, BINGO, and guessing game.

2) FRUIT COLORING PAGES can be found from sakunet here, here, here, and here. A coloring page from 子育て・ことば育て here.

3) And you might as well teach your toddler/preschooler how to count while you’re at it. Counting with fruit worksheets from Leeのきょうざいかん here, here, and here.

4) Online fruit matching game at NIFTY.

5) And if you can somehow get a hold of a copy… this is a great picture book about fruit: くだもの (福音館の幼児絵本).

6) Japanese-English translations of fruit here (from English Walk) and here (from 英語好き集まれ!).

Feelings in Japanese

17 Feb

I want to teach my children how to express their feelings in Japanese. My daughter will begin attending a Japanese School soon, so I want her to be able to communicate what she is feeling to others. I don’t have any books that teach what I want her to know, so I decided to make my own book! I used images from The Droplet Project, added words, then got them made into a bound booklet using The project only cost me about $5, including shipping!

(All of these images are from the Droplet Project, with permission)

1) I am sorry. ごめんなさい。Gomennasai.





2) I am scared. こわい。Kowai.





3) I am sad. かなしい。Kanashii.





4) I am hungry. おなかすきました。Onaka sukimashita.





5) I am happy. うれしい。Ureshii.





6) I am confused. わかりません。Wakarimasen.





7) I am angry. おこっています。Okotteimasu.





Are there any other emotions that you think a preschooler should know how to say?

き:きせかえにんぎょう Kisekae Dolls

17 Feb

When I was a little girl, I loved playing with 着せ替え人形 (kisekae-ningyou). They are paper dolls that you dress up. In Japan, they sell kisekae ningyou books where you can punch out the dolls and their coordinating clothes and accessories. Inexpensive fun for little girls.

It was a great opportunity for me to review colors, body parts, and the names of clothes with my toddler as we worked on coloring, cutting, and putting together our paper doll today. I imagine older girls (3rd-5th grade?) would have even more fun with きせかえにんぎょう, because they can then even design their own clothes, make outfits coordinate, and so on. Plus you wouldn’t have to cut everything out for them.

Here are some links to Kisekae Ningyou!

1) My daughter and I printed out the doll and clothes from ぬりえやさん

2) If you have a color printer, there are a whole bunch at NIFTY! I especially like this one.

3) Zowie’s Room has really cute kisekae, but they are pretty small, so probably not for the preschool crowd. I love this set– very traditional Japanese clothes.  Zowie’s Room also has a lot of other free printables that are worth checking out!

4) Another small-ish, but cute one from yaplog. (Click on the thumbnail for the printable)

5) You can play kisekae online at NIFTY (キララちゃんきせかえ) if you don’t want to have to deal with the mess that paper dolls can create.


(I highly recommend printing on cardstock if you want them to last for more than one day!)

Any others resources I’m missing? Did you love this as a little child? Please share!

Origami Heart Garland

13 Feb

origami heart wreath by Hiragana Mama

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thanks for reading Hiragana Mama 🙂

I was inspired by this origami necklace tutorial and made this heart garland for a Valentine’s Party we’re hosting tomorrow. It was easy and only took about 30 minutes, some colorful paper, and a piece of ribbon. (Click here to read my Valentine’s post). Have a wonderful day with the people you love!

You can purchase origami HERE.

Hinamatsuri /ひな祭り

11 Feb

I am sooo excited that Hinamatsuri (ひなまつり)is coming up in a few weeks! In English, it is called the “Doll Festival”. The date is easy to remember… 3/3, March 3rd. (Children’s Day is 5/5, also easy to remember). My mom always got out the hina dolls (ひなにんぎょう) around this time of the year. I always thought they looked really creepy (see an example here), but apparently, they help drive out bad spirits. My mom always took them down as soon as Hinamatsuri was over. There’s an old wives tale that says the longer you keep the display up after the holiday is over, the longer it will take for your daughters to get married. Well, I guess it worked, because I got married at the very average age of 25!

It is also customary to eat pretty food like chirashi-zushi, strawberry daifuku, hishimochi, hina-arare, and ushiojiru. Man, I am craving ichigo-daifuku so bad right now! I may have to make them soon!

I decided to do a post about Hinamatsuri a little early, because I have found sooo many fun things you can do, so I wanted to share those with you asap so you have time to try as many as you want 🙂

Arts and Crafts:

1) Kids@NIFTY: Crafts, recipes, games, coloring pages, etc.

2) Origami-club: make everything for a hina-doll display

3) Leeのきょうざいかん: A hiragana worksheet that includes March events like Hinamatsuri and graduation

4) ぬりえやさん: Cute Hinamatsuri coloring page

5) ぬりえランド: More Hinamatsuri coloring pages

6) Mansei: Printable PDF for a 3D Ohinasama display (scroll down to March)

7) Canon Creative Park: If you are up for a challenge, another ohinasama display to make with folded paper(if anyone makes this successfully, I’d love to see a picture of it)

8) Print Out Factory: For a simpler ohinasama display (scroll to the middle of the page)

9) The name says it all… all kinds of Hinamatsuri printables and crafts!


1) Here are the lyrics (and melody) to the song, “Happy Hinamatsuri” 「うれしいひな祭り」from Amic Co., Ltd.

2) AWESOME! There’s a new Hinamatsuri album you can buy on called “Ureshii Hinamatsuri: Songs for Japanese Doll Festival / Girls Day/うれしいひなまつりベスト“- 99 cents per song or $8.99 for all 20 songs!

3) A song that teaches you how to draw a hina ningyou at


1) A recipe for Ichigo (strawberry) Daifuku from All About (YUM!!)

(make sure you check out my post about ichigo daifuku!)

2) I really want to make these Hinamatsuri candies from la Fuji Mama this year!


And if those aren’t enough resources for ya, there’s TONS more at that I don’t feel like clicking through right now. If you look at all the links and come across a great one, please share with us!

Check back on this post next week because I’ll  keep adding resources as I find them. Yeah for GIRLS!

2012 UPDATE:


image from

I found another adorable hinamatsuri craft for your kids (see image above). Click HERE for the printable, and HERE for the instructions!


Valentine’s Day バレンタイン

10 Feb

I’m not sure what children do to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Japan (if anyone knows, please enlighten us). I’m pretty sure they don’t exchange valentines cards or treats at school like we do in the U.S. Adults celebrate the holiday a little differently as well:

“The custom that only women give chocolates to men appears to have originated from the typo of a chocolate-company executive during the initial campaigns. In particular, office ladies give chocolate to their co-workers. Unlike western countries, gifts such as greeting cards, candies, flowers, or dinner dates are uncommon, and most of the activity about the gifts is about giving the right amount of chocolate to each person.”

I’ve rounded up some projects to work on with your kids for Valentine’s Day. The easiest (and my favorite of the bunch) is this origami heart (from

my construction paper origami heart

Don’t you think it would be a unique valentine to pass out to the kids at school? It would be cute to attach a Hi-Chew (Japanese candy) and write, “I Chews You.” 🙂

Other (more advanced) crafts:

Make Valentine’s cards and boxes at NIFTY.

More cards, boxes, etc here, here, and here.


Read more about Valentine’s Day in Japan here, and ways to say “I love you” in Japanese here, at

The way I tell my children “I love you” in Japanese:


か:Animals That Begin With か

9 Feb


Some animals that begin with the kana か are:

kani/かに (crab)

coloring page here and here

kaba/かば (hippo)

coloring page here and here

kaeru/かえる (frog)

coloring page here and here

karasu/からす (crow)

katatsumuri/かたつむり (snail)

coloring page here and here

kame/かめ (turtle)

coloring page here and here

kaijyu/かいじゅう (monster)

coloring page here

kabutomushi/かぶとむし (Japanese beetle)

coloring page here

If you’ve never seen kabutomushi before, watch this video (in Japanese):

Practice writing the kana か here and here 🙂

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