Archive | January, 2013

Fun Kids Show: シャキーン!

29 Jan


This morning we spent our TV time watching a Japanese show called “シャキーン!(Shakiin)” via YouTube. It is a 7am show designed for elementary-aged children to help wake their brains up in the morning. It has been entertaining and educational for me as well. Here’s the description of the show by NHK:

子どもたちを “シャキーン!”と目覚めさせて、楽しい一日のスタートを切ってもらう知的エンターテインメント番組。「いつもとは違うモノの見方」や「柔軟な発想力」が 楽しみながら身につきます。舞台は、雲の上まで突き出した木の上にある謎の秘密基地。愉快な仲間、ジュモクさん、あゆちゃん、ナオト、ネコッパチが、学校で友だちと話題にしたくなるようなトピックを次々と紹介します。クイズにアニメにエクササイズ、即興ゲームや思わず考えさせられてしまう歌など、子どもたちの五感や記憶力・観察力・表現力を育むコンテンツが盛りだくさん。朝から「ハッ!」としたり、「へえ」とうなるバラエティに富んだコーナーで、「体の目覚め」と「心の目覚め」を促します。

(Can’t read Japanese? Try using Google Translate)

You can watch a few Shakiin episodes below:

Setsubun 2013

27 Jan


There’s only one week left until Setsubun(せつぶん/節分)! Do you have your supplies ready to celebrate this fun Japanese holiday with your children? (Unfamilar with Setsubun? You can read about it HERE, and see my past posts about it HERE, HERE, and HERE). Setsubun is next Sunday, February 3rd.

Here’s my suggestions for how to celebrate Setsubun:

1) MAME-MAKI (Bean-Throwing)

Materials Needed:

– dried beans (traditionally roasted soy beans, but you can also use peanuts, marshmallows, candy, etc).

– A box to hold your beans (you can make one out of origami HERE )

– Oni Mask (make your own or print one out, see my past posts)


– Designate one person to wear the oni mask.

– Everyone else throws beans at the oni, saying “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!”

– Everyone eats their age+1 in beans, for good luck.

Here’s our little family last year:

2) Eat Ehou-Maki

Materials needed:

– Ingredients to make a sushi roll (rice, sheets of nori, filling such as smoked salmon)

Just Bento has a great Ehou-maki recipe HERE.


– Facing the lucky direction of the year (in 2013 it is south-south-east), eat your entire ehoumaki (futomaki) in complete silence.

3) Other Activities:

– Fold an Oni and Fuku out  of origami. Below is a great tutorial by Daily Origami. If it looks too advanced, click HERE for other options).

Read more about Setsubun (in Japanese) HERE.

Today we worked on making homemade oni masks. Tutorial coming soon!

おとうさんといっしょ!(New Kids Program Coming to NHK)

24 Jan


Have you heard? NHK just announced a new children’s show called おとうさんといっしょ/”Otousan to Issho”. It is scheduled to begin airing in April.

I am so excited to see what the show will be like!

Here’s what the NHK website says about it:


I sure wish we had cable+TV Japan so we can watch it right away. If I find any episodes on YouTube or elsewhere, I”ll be sure to share with you on this blog. If you are not familiar with the original children’s show, おかあさんといっしょ/Okaasan to issho, check out this post. 

Adorable Nontan Videos

22 Jan

Here are some more Nontan videos for your little ones!! We all love げんきげんきノンタン at our house 🙂

Momotaro on SuperWhy!

18 Jan

One  of my kids’ favorite non-Japanese TV shows is “SuperWhy!”. It is a show where cartoon characters solve problems using stories from fairytales and folktales while teaching children the ABC’s.

As I walked by my kids watching SuperWhy! this morning, I had to do a double-take when I saw the story of ももたろう/Momotaro on the show! I thought it was SuperCool! that they chose a Japanese folktale for an episode. They didn’t pronounce “Momotaro” correctly, but oh well. It is an older episode (season 1 episode 56). If you are interested, you can watch it via Hulu HERE.

If you want the REAL story of Momotaro, or “Peach Boy”, you can watch the video below:


This story is a great one to share with your children in preparation for the upcoming Setsubun holiday (February 3), because it will familiarize your children with “oni” (ogres). Other good Japanese children’s stories with ogres are “こぶとりじいさん/Kobu Toru Jiisan” and “いっすんぼうし/Issunboshi”.

Click HERE for a printable mask of Momotaro and other Japanese folklore characters, and HERE for a coloring page.

じゅうにし: Jyuunishi, the Japanese Zodiac Animals

15 Jan

あけましておめでとうございます!How did you spend your New Years? My children and I ate mochi, played karuta, and watched a little bit of 紅白歌合戦 (Kouhaku Uta Gassen).

One of my daughter’s first homework assignments from Japanese School this year is to complete a worksheet about the 十二支/じゅうにし(Jyuunishi). This is something that I’ve never thought to teach her and something I don’t know too  much about either. So of course I used the internet to look for the best resources to teach my daughter about the Jyuunishi.

I think I will begin by showing her a video of the story behind the jyuunishi animals. Here are a few of the best ones on YouTube (I love the 日本むかし話/Nihon Mukashi Banashi series!):

I also downloaded the story of the Jyuunishi on my iTouch for 99 cents via the “Koehon” app (for iPhone and iPad). If you don’t already have this app, I highly recommend it! The app itself is free. Once you download the app, you will have access to 250+ picture books, most of them Japanese!! This is a pretty huge deal, if you ask me, since paper copies of Japanese children’s books are not readily available in the U.S. Most of the stories are only 99 cents. You can either read the text yourself or listen to a pre-recording. Visit the official Japanese Koehon website HERE. (BTW, there are LOTS of NEW, great Japanese apps for kids now. I will do a separate post on those later.)

If you don’t have an iPod/iPad, you can visit Xuite’s website to listen to the story of the jyunishi (in Japanese) then print off the provided worksheet to complete.

Here’s another video to help you remember the order of the animals:

Then I will help my kids figure out what animal year they were born in, and read to them their “personality traits”. You can find those HERE and HERE (this website has a fun animal-matching flash game at the bottom).

Then, I will teach them that 2013 is the year of the SNAKE(へび). We might color one of the snake coloring pages by My daughter made paper plate snakes (instructions HERE at “Crafts and Art for Children) at Japanese School.

If you have any other ideas, please share!


(You can read more about Jyuunishi on Wikipedia, HERE. It is basically the same thing as the Chinese Zodiac Calendar).

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