Archive | March, 2011

Easy Way For Kids to Help Japan

30 Mar

I think we will definitely do this! Easy, creative, and a good way for kids to be involved.

Osh Kosh B’Gosh Cranes for Kids

Origami crane instructions here.

は:はる (Spring)

30 Mar

Where we live, it’s still cold enough to snow, but I guess it’s still SPRING (haru)! I imagine spring in Japan in very beautiful and exciting with cherry blossoms blooming and children getting ready to graduate/begin a new school year.

There is a cute interactive Flash game on all about “Finding Spring“. Check it  out with your little ones!

I also love this song about spring, called “Haru ga Kita” (Spring is Here). I don’t especially love these videos, but you’ll get the gist of how the song goes:

More Hiragana Worksheets

29 Mar

I just wanted to let you know that I am adding more resources to the “Hiragana Practice Sheets” and “Hiragana Charts” posts! Be sure to check them out. Here are the newest finds:

1) Hiroshi and Sakura at have an English site that includes pretty practice sheets for hiragana, katakana, and numbers 1-10.

2) ぞうくんのえほん (Elephant’s Picture Book) has hiragana practice sheets for あ〜と。(click the link at the bottom of the page for the rest of the kana)

3) Gakuen gifu-net has hiragana worksheets for all the kana, plus がぎぐげご、ぱぴぷぺぽ、etc.

4) あきあかね also has printable practice pages for hiragana, katakana, and numbers.

5) has hiragana charts and practice pages. Their website is undergoing some changes but it looks like it might be a useful site worth checking out.

Have you found any worthwhile hiragana/Japanese-learning sites recently?


Book Review: “Japanese Celebrations”

28 Mar

If you’ve been reading my blog for a few months, you know that I love to celebrate Japanese holidays with my kids! Recently, a good friend of mine visited Washington D.C. and brought back this book for my children:

“Japanese Celebrations”

It is called “Japanese Celebrations” by Betty Reynolds. At first I was a little skeptical- a book about Japan written by a non-Japanese person? But I was completely delighted by what I found inside! The information is accurate and easy to understand, the pictures are great, and all the important holidays/celebrations are included. Both my preschooler and I enjoy reading this book, and I’ll be referring to it a lot when I want to know how to teach her about Japanese customs. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture.

さ:さかな Fish

24 Mar


fish market in Aomori

One of my sisters is visiting Japan next month.  I am very jealous but I find it hilarious that she has Ichthyophobia– Fear of Fish. Fish is just such a huge part of the culture of Japan- eating it, displaying it (like koinobori)… I mean, the country is basically a huge island, surround by an ocean full of fish. I am not sure how she is going to survive.

In America, it seems we don’t eat a huge variety of fish on a daily basis. Our family typically eats salmon and tilapia at home, and we get sushi when we go out to eat. In Japan, they eat many different kinds of fish. Although I can’t stand the thought of filleting a whole fish by myself, I would love to learn how to cook more Japanese fish recipes someday. (Click here for a huge list of fishes and their English translations, from

I thought a good way for me to teach  my kids the names of different types of fish would be to create a sakanatsuri/魚釣り(さかなつり) game for them.  Sakana tsuri=Fishing. This is how I made the game:

1) First I printed out pictures of fish HERE at Nurieyasan. My daughter helped me color them in.

2) I cut out the sea creatures.

3) I typed up the names of the animals in both English and Japanese and glued them to the backs.

4) I laminated them. (optional, but after all the hard work, you’ll want this game to last)

5) I put a paper clip on each fish.

6) To make the fishing rod, I glue-gunned some twine onto a pair of disposable chopsticks. I glue gunned a magnet (it needs to be a strong magnet) to the other end of the twine (yarn would work too).

sakanatsuri by Hiragana Mama

Hiragana Mama

The game was a big hit! I highly recommend doing this with your kids. I even learned some new words too. “Seahorse” is “たつのおとしご”! That is a mouth-full!

Hiragana Mama

Extra: Print out an easy fish maze here, also from Nurieyasan.


23 Mar

I love this sweet little song, called “Kotori no Uta” (The Little Birds’ Song). With Spring just around the corner (I hope), I find myself singing this song throughout the day.

Here are the lyrics (and my translation):

小鳥(ことり)はとっても 歌(うた)がすき  (little birds love to sing)
(かあ)さん呼(よ)ぶのも 歌でよぶ (they even sing when calling their mother)
ピピピピピ (chirp, chirp, chirp…)
チチチチチ ピチクリピイ

Lyrics from here.  (If you click on the link, you can also listen to the melody)

Kotori/little bird coloring page here, from sakunet.

‘Hafu’ Movie

22 Mar

Hafu Film teaser (with Japanese subtitles) from Hafu Film on Vimeo.

I’m guessing many of you readers are “hafu”, or half-Japanese. Maybe your children, your parents, or husband are. If you aren’t, there’s a good probability that you know some “hafu” people. “Half-Japanese” people are other times referred to as “halvsies” or “hapa”. Either way, I’m not sure how I feel about my children being called “a half” of anything. They are a whole person of mixed race. Hmmm… I’m sure they will grow up having to explain to people all the time that “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is Japanese”.

ANYWAY, there is an interesting documentary due out in late 2011 called “HAFU“.  CNN wrote an interesting article about the movie last year. The film’s website describes the movie in this way:

“Hafu” is the unfolding journey of discovery into the intricacies of mixed-race Japanese and their multicultural experience in modern-day Japan.

I think it looks interesting and definitely want to go see it. I want to know what kinds of issues my children will face during their lives because of their mixed race. I hope their experiences will be mostly positive. Another ongoing project is the “Hafu Project”. You can check out the website to see pictures of mixed-race Japanese people and read their stories.

こ:こいのぼり (koinobori)

21 Mar

Kodomonohi/Children’s Day isn’t until May, but my mind is already swirling with ideas! This is the first year that I get to celebrate こどものひ for real, because I now have a baby boy! I grew up with all sisters so this was a holiday that I never really celebrated growing up.

One of the major traditions on Children’s Day/Boy’s Day is to fly koinobori/carp windsocks.

Here are some cute ideas I’ve rounded up on the web so far that I want to try:

1) A special okosama lunch with cute koinobori and kabuto decorations from All About.

2) Make-it-yourself koinobori papercrafts here, here, here, here, here, here, and here! I don’t know which one to choose!

3) Cute koinobori bento idea from e-obento..
4) I want to teach my daughter the words to the koinobori song:

The Lyrics (and my translation):

やねよりたかい こいのぼり (koinobori, taller than the roof)
おおきいまごいは おとおさん (the big carp is daddy)
ちいさいひごいは こどもたち (the small carps are the children)
おもしろそうに およいでる (they are swimming happily)

And Nordstrom currently has this super-cute koinobori T-shirt (part of their Disney It’s a Small World series). I want it!

shirt from Nordstrom


21 Mar


– けWorksheets from here and here (click on the images for a PDF file)

– Coloring page/worksheet here (cake) from nurienomori

– More coloring pages(things that begin with け) here from nurieyasan

For Japan With Love

17 Mar

I will be back to regular posting about teaching our children Japanese next week. In the meanwhile, if you’re still looking for a way to help, check out For Japan With Love.

Also, if you’ve been thinking about buying TextFugu, now is the time. For a limited time, Koichi is donating 110% of the proceeds to the relief effort in Japan.

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