Archive | December, 2011

し:しょうがつ/ New Year’s in Japan

26 Dec

Here are some ways you can celebrate the new year (おしょうがつ) Japanese-style with your children:


1) Eat Osechi-ryori (お節料理), ozoni (お雑煮), mochi, soba, and sushi.

2) Ring bells at midnight to get rid of worldly desires.

3) Send New Year’s Postcards(ねんがじょう).

4) Give otoshidama (money) to children :).

5) Write a haiku about the new year.

6) Play games such as hanetsuki, spin tops, fly kites, karuta, and fukuwarai.

7) On January 1st, wake up early to watch the first sunrise of the year. Also, try to remember your first dream of the year.

8) Sing the New Year’s Song (lyrics HERE):

How do you ring in the new year?

Happy Holidays!

23 Dec

Happy Holidays! Love, Hiragana Mama and Family

Thank you for your support!

り:りゅう/ Dragon

19 Dec

2012 is going to be the year of the dragon/りゅう!

Click HERE for a coloring page and HERE for a “How to Draw Your Own Dragon” printable !


A New Look!

15 Dec

Yes, you have arrived at Hiragana Mama! I decided to change up the look a little bit. Can you tell I have no graphic design skills? Let me know if you like this new look, if I should go back to the old theme, or if you would like to help me make my site look better! ありがとう〜! And yes, it is “snowing” on my blog 🙂 Keep reading  below for a post about sending New Year’s cards in Japan…

ね:ねんがじょう/ New Year’s Cards

15 Dec

Sending New Year’s cards/ねんがじょう is much more popular than sending Christmas cards in Japan. It is the busiest time of year for Japanese post offices. Post offices guarantee Jan. 1st delivery if your New Year’s  postcard is postmarked within a certain time frame (wow!). These special postcards can be made online or bought at stationary stores, and often has a picture of the corresponding year’s animal on it (2012 is the year of the dragon).

It is customary to write something like “あけましておめでとうございます(I hope for your favor again in the coming year)” or “ことしもおねがいします (Happiness to you on the dawn of a new year)” on the post cards. They used to be sent only to relatives, but nowadays are sent to friends and even co-workers.

I think it would be great hiragana practice for your children to write New Year’s Postcards/Nengajyou to some family or friends.

I’ve created a free printable postcard if you’d like to use it (just click and download and print on cardstock):

free printable post card from Hiragana Mama!

It’s kind of tricky to write up–>down if you’re used to writing from left–>right. Here’s an example of how you can write on your post card:

You can also print your own post cards here:

1) Kids@Nifty’s New Year’s Cards (and HERE is an interactive version)

2) Another cute printable postcard from

3) And don’t forget the cute ones from KF Studio (see THIS blog post).

Makeup for Japanese Faces

14 Dec

This blog post is for all the mama’s out there! (and ladies without children too, of course).

Do you find yourself throwing your hair up in a ponytail and wearing yoga pants and minimal makeup everyday? Not that that’s a bad thing, but I know that sometimes I feel like prettying myself up a little bit more and not looking so “mama”. And boy, do I need help in that department!

In the past, I have gone to makeup counters for help, with horrible results. Many makeup “artists” in American department stores are not trained to apply makeup on an Asian face. They apply makeup on my face as if I was a Caucasian and I just end up looking really awful. As a teen, I read magazines such as Seventeen and In Style and those were not helpful either, because it just made me want to look like a beautiful Caucasian girl.

I am now 30 years old and feel like I’m finally beginning to understand how to work with my Japanese skin and facial features (and embrace them!) in a country that doesn’t sell many  Japanese beauty products. Here’s what has helped me:

1) Sephora! Sephora is a popular name-brand cosmetics store. They have LOTS of products that you can try out in-store so there’s no guessing about what colors look good on. The Sephora where I live has some Asian employees. They are so helpful in giving me makeup tips and suggesting the right products for me.

2) Japanese Fashion Magazines, like AneCan. They usually include beauty how-to’s, but most of their products are Japanese, so that part’s not very helpful. I like to look at these magazines for hairstyle inspiration too.

3) How-to Videos and Blogs. There are some great YouTube videos and blogs about makeup and beauty  by Asian girls. Here are a few I have found recently:

Choicerish’s Japanese Beauty Channel:

Michelle’s Phan’s Blog and Channel:

Dance and Melodee’s Blog and Channel:

I don’t own the hundreds of beauty products that these fashionistas do, but I find these videos helpful 🙂 What do you think? Do you think you’ll try something new for the holidays? Do you have a favorite beauty blog/product? Please share!

Click HERE for a list of more Japanese beauty blogs 🙂 And Pretty & Cute has a small selection of Japanese makeup for purchase. Buying makeup is definitely on my list of things to do when I visit Japan next time!

I am sorry for the very worldly post today. I will get back on track with how to teach Japanese to our children soon!

Printable Holiday Cards

10 Dec

Have you already sent out your holiday cards? I was really on the ball this year and sent them out December 1st! If you haven’t yet, check out these cute printable Christmas and New Year’s cards from KF Studio (I love them!).

If December is too busy for cards, you could send New Year’s cards to your family and friends, Japanese-style 🙂

か:かいぶん Japanese Palindromes

5 Dec

Do you know what a palindrome is? They are words that read the same forwards and backwards. For example, in the English language, palindromes include words like “WOW”, “MADAM”, and “RACECAR”. There are even palindrome sentences, like “A nut for a jar of tuna.”

In Japan, palindromes are called 回文/かいぶん/kaibun. They are so fun for kids to read and create. One of my favorite Japanese kids’ shows, ピタゴラスイッチ/Pitagora Switch, has a segment called こたつたこ/kotatsutako where the entire segment is made up of kaibun. It’s catchy and fun! Click HERE to watch (HERE is another version)! (click here to buy the DVD, from Amazon Japan).

Here are the lyrics:




Wouldn’t it be fun for your kids to think of and illustrate their own Japanese palindromes?

Christmas Origami

1 Dec

Happy December 1st! We’re starting to get into the holiday spirit. Wouldn’t it be fun to make some holiday decorations out of origami? I’m imagining tree decorations, garlands, gift tags… these can be used for so many things! Click over to Origami Club for step-by-step instructions!


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