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“Once Upon a World” : Fairy Tales Reimagined!

17 May


Have you happened upon the “Once Upon a World” series yet?? If not, you must! It is a refreshing, delightful new take on the classic fairy tales. The stories are the same, but the characters and illustrations reflect a different culture. So far in the series, there’s Snow White, Rapunzel, and Cinderella.

We are especially in love with “Snow White“, by Chloe Perkins. The illustrations inspired by Japan are just lovely to look at. I love that my little girl can see that someone who looks like her can be a princess too.

Here’s what the Simon & Schuster website has to say about Snow White:

The classic tale of Snow White gets a fresh twist in this debut title of a brand-new board book series, Once Upon a World. With Japan as the backdrop, and beautiful artwork from Japanese illustrator Misa Saburi, Snow White is still the same girl who meets seven dwarves and accepts a shiny red apple—but she’s totally reimagined. Once Upon a World offers a multicultural take on the fairy tales we all know and love. Because these tales are for everyone, everywhere.

You can purchase “Once Upon a World: Snow White” HERE. (Currently less than $5 on Amazon! I might stock up for baby shower gifts)

These are nice board books– perfect for little ones!

(This is not an endorsed post. We found this book at our local library and loved it so we wanted to share. If you use my amazon link to purchase a book however, we will earn a few pennies to help keep this blog running! Thanks!)

Super Simple 日本語 Japanese Children’s Videos

1 May

Super Simple has released some great Japanese videos recently. They produce videos in many different languages. I think the translation is done really well! I hope they keep adding more.



They also have a set of “Mommy-and-Me Japanese videos here.

Hiragana Learning Videos for Kids

2 Mar

I’ve found the best Japanese hiragana-learning videos for you! Use them to introduce, teach, and review hiragana with children. (Looking for FREE printable hiragana worksheets? Click HERE. )

I think YouTube Channel SweetDinos has some of the best videos. Here are two to get you started! Visit their channel for all the hiragana and katakana.

You Tube channel Nokkana Animation has many hiragana videos for the youngest leaners. Here’s just two of many:

Ikuman is another YouTube channel with great learning videos for children. Here’s an example:

Here’s even more, in no particular order.

Click HERE for a good video that I can’t embed on this site, but it’s good! It’s called ひらがな見つけちゃおう!/Let’s Look for Hiragana!

A Hiragana song by the Shimajiro Channel:

Learn Hiragana Song by ハグクモーション:

Myu Sings AIUEO by Myu Papa:

Japanese Alphabet Hiragana Song by Hiroto S:

あいうえお by jun egusa:

Japanese Alphabet Song by LetsLearnJapanese:

These are for kids or adults, from Learn Japanese with Japanese Pod 101:

Do you have a favorite video that I failed to mention? Comment below!

Best Online Japanese Educational Videos for Kids

24 Feb

I know I have videos all over the place on my blog, and many of them need updating (sorry!). So I’ve compiled a list of the best YouTube channels onto one post for you. Please let me know if there are any great ones that I’ve missed! Thank you so much to the people and companies who create these videos so the rest of us can learn Japanese! 🙂

Best Japanese YouTube Channels for Babies and Toddlers:

1. ノッカーナアニメーション (nokkana animation):  adorable, short videos that will entertain your little one and teach them a few words in the process. Lot’s of Peek-a-Boo-style videos. There are dozens and dozens of videos and playlists, teaching everything from hiragana, colors, nursery songs, and a lot of more. (They also have a similar channel called Nokkana World).

Best Japanese YouTube Channels for Preschoolers:

1. しまじろうチャンネル(SHIMAJIROCH): I just love everything by Benesse. I credit Shimajiro and his pals for a lot of my children’s Japanese education. This YouTube channel is full of short stories and fun songs. 

2. 東京ハイジ (TOKIOHEIDI) : Lots of cute animations and songs!

3. チブクラ!(Small Crafts): Short videos that will inspire you and your preschooler to craft.

4. oojioo: A YouTube channel just full of cute ekakiuta’s (songs that help you draw).

5. 童謡チャンネルby takanonGB: Lots of Japanese children’s songs with lyrics so you can sing along.

6. 動く絵本、童謡、いないいないばあ の動画「ゆめあるチャンネル」: Lots of Japanese children’s songs, fingerplays, and stories! They’ve added a lot of new content since I last visited a few years ago. Here is their website:

7. Visit my blog post where I’ve listed all the best hiragana learning videos!

8. YouTube Channel SongsPlace has many children’s songs and fingerplays.

9. SongsLand is another channel with Japanese children’s songs.

10. PinkFong has a lot of Japanese animated short stories (lots of Aesop’s Fables) and songs. There’s English videos mixed in there as well.

11. Takanotetsuya has many great songs for preschoolers. I think this channel is intended to be for prospective preschool teachers in Japan.

12. 保育士バンク!チャンネル【公式】This is another channel full of songs of preschoolers, performed by preschool teachers.

13. TEASOBI channel : even more songs and finger rhymes

14. 子ある日和 手遊び歌 Japanese children’s songs performed by teachers, plus origami instructional videos.

15. Super Simple Japanese has great Japanese videos with good animation.

Best Japanese YouTube Channels for Grade-Schoolers:

1. jun egusa has created a lot of animated videos to teach math, Japanese history, kanji, etc! I’m pretty impressed.

2. The Mr. Men Little Miss videos by Sanrio has many many little episodes that could help with Japanese listening skills.

3. YouTube Channel キッズボンボンhas many videos about animals, science, kanji, hiragana, fairy tales and Japanese folktales, etc.

4. The FujiTV Kids YouTube channel has many educational and just-for-fun videos.

Best Japanese Educational Videos for Grade-Schoolers:

1. NHK for School is hands-down, the best resource I have found. You can search all of their educational videos by grade level or subject matter. Love this website so much! I have sung its praises before in this blog post.

2. The Science Channel website has a lot of great videos for gradeschoolers on up.

Best Japanese Educational Videos for High Schoolers and Beyond:

1. Erin’s Challenge! by the Japan Foundation : lots of videos and other resources for the older Japanese student. (blog post)

2. JapanSocietyNYC: has a lot of excellent videos showcasing the Japanese language and culture.

3. PuniPuniJapan: The animation is interesting but you can learn a lot of Japanese vocabulary! Lots of Japanese lessons.

Please comment below with your favorite resources and YouTube channels!

Style Trend: Kimonos!

20 Feb

I’ve noticed lately on sites such as Pinterest that kimono-inspired clothes are trending for little fashionistas! It is about time… kimonos are just so adorable on little kids. You can find a pattern and make your own if you are a seamstress, or buy from Etsy sellers or even big stores like Old Navy. I love having my kids wear jinbei’s (casual lightweight kimonos) during the summer months.

Here are some cute kimono styles I found online! (I am NOT affiliated or sponsored by any of these stores)


Old Navy Printed Tee and Pants Set (comes in other colors):













Children’s Kimono Cardigan by BusySpinningThread















Asian Cross-Front Dress by OllieBeans














Jibei Set by SpurTheMoment
















Girls Yukata by Uniqlo



















What do you think of these styles? I love them! They’re perfect for summer parties and festivals.





Japan-Inspired Gift Ideas!

12 Dec

Recently, I frequently find myself gifting Japan-related things! For example, my daughter took a bag full of Japanese candy for a birthday party. For Christmas, my older kids are getting a Yokai Watch DVD set and my toddler is getting a Mel-chan doll. It is a good way to be unique! Here are some gift ideas for the Japan-lovers in your life:

Melissa and Doug Sushi Slicing Set (a fun alternative to “traditional” food!)











Kendama Toy (great for all ages!)













Vive Le Color! Japan Coloring Book for Adults












Yakusen Bath Roman Bath Salts (Japanese bath salts are sooo relaxing)












Making Tape Gift Box (the mt brand from Japan is simply the best. I use it for everything!)












Mitsubishi 100 Colors Colored Pencil Box (my kids have this set and it is awesome. Every color you could ever want, durable, and the color glides onto paper so smoothly)











Nintendo Hanafuda Card Game (great for older kids, teens and adults)











Yokai Watch Karuta (for your Yokai Watch fanatic)












Kracie Pop N Cookin Candies (oh so-unhealthy but so fun to make and eat)












Pack of Japanese Snacks












Uncle Goose Hiragana Wood Blocks










Go to my online Amazon store to see more ideas!!

Tsuwari: Morning Sickness

13 Jun

I am so sorry for my long absence from blogging. I have been feeling miserable for the past few months. I couldn’t eat much, couldn’t keep down much, lost lots of weight, and had absolutely zero energy to do anything. My children are lucky I fed and clothed them and got them off to school every morning! Maybe some of you can relate.

The happy news is that we are expecting another baby! We can’t wait to see what new adventures being a family of five will bring. And yes, of course, we will be trying to raise this child bilingual too!

I want to dedicate this post to other mothers who may also been suffering from this horrible thing called morning sickness, or tsuwari(つわり). Especially you Japanese-American mommies. I don’t know if any scientific research has been done, but from observing many different women in my life, it seems that Japanese women have it extra hard when it comes to feeling sick when pregnant. I know of several in my circle of friends who were terribly sick the entire 40 weeks of their pregnancies. Most of my Caucasian friends seem to get over it by 12 weeks or so, or they never have it that bad to begin with (of course there are others who are not so lucky).

When I was 12 weeks pregnant, I would read things like, “Your morning sickness should be getting better and going away in the next week or so!” online and in pregnancy books. “Ha!”, I would think. “I think mine is just peaking”. I couldn’t relate to the women who craved ice cream, pickles, and fried chicken. Absolutely NOTHING sounded appetizing or edible to me, not even water.

Then one day I decided to search for remedies on Japanese websites. I typed in something like, “What did you eat when you had morning sickness?/つわりのとき、なにをたべましたか?”. Here are foods that Japanese women like to eat when they are pregnant:

– Cold noodles, like somen, soba, and hiyashi-chuuka

– tomatoes

– watermelon, peaches, nashi (apple-pears), strawberries… can’t begin to tell you how much I wish I could eat momo/もも (peaches from Japan) right now!

– jello, purin, ice, water with lemon



I was relieved to feel that I could probably eat some of those things! I ran to the Asian food store and bought some somen noodles. I think I ate somen for lunch for a week straight. It was great because it only takes 3 minutes to prepare, doesn’t smell, you can eat it cold (hot foods made me extra nauseous), and it goes down easily.

A few weeks later when I was able to eat a little bit more, I started eating hiyashi chuuka (see photo below). I added some tomatoes and cucumbers.

I couldn’t eat most vegetables, but I found that I could eat cold cucumbers dipped in some miso paste. Edamame was how I got some protein into my body since I couldn’t eat meat.

If you become anemic like I did, tofu is a good Japanese food that has iron. You can eat it cold by just pouring some soy sauce over it.


I found that the popular Japanese recipe site, Cookpad, has a bunch of recipes for those suffering from morning sickness. Click HERE to see them! I hope that as you scroll through the recipes, something might sound good to you. For drinks, I found that I could drink water if it has a slice of lemon in it, or I could drink mugicha (cold barley tea).

I found that I was not alone in my aversion to hot rice! It is really hard to think of what to eat when you are used to having rice with almost every meal. Now at 20 weeks pregnant, I am just now able to start eating rice again, in small amounts.

I just find it funny that when I’m pregnant, I want to eat Japanese food, even though I grew up in America eating all kinds of food from different cultures. Is it just that we crave the foods from our childhood, or is there something in our genetic makeup that makes us want food from our “homeland”?



If you have any advice for surviving a hard pregnancy, please post a comment! I know that every woman and pregnancy are different, so not all advice applies to everyone. But it is still nice to hear that we are not alone. I hope to start posting more regularly. I have TWO kids in Japanese School now(busy!). During my morning sickness I survived graduation and the start of a new school year. I am also on the Activities Committee so I’m helping plan Undoukai (Sports Day). I’ve also been checking out some new and wonderful websites that I can’t wait to share with you! Thanks for sticking around!

We Love “Shimura Zoo”!

22 Jul

It has been a few months since we signed up for TV Japan (cable TV channel). It has been worth the investment for us. I do wish there were more shows available for school-aged children (most of the kids’ shows are geared toward toddlers) but I feel that replacing most of our TV time with Japanese instead of English shows has helped my children speak more Japanese at home. My kids’ (ages 3 and 5) favorite shows are Pitagora Switch, Design Ah, and Kid’s Discovery.

志村と うふ つ園画像_l

image by NTV

Our newest obsession is a show called Shimura Zoo (天才!志村どうぶつ園)by Nippon Television Network.  It is a great show for all ages! The show is about celebrities taking care of adorable baby animals. I like that there’s lots of subtitles so we can practice reading Japanese too :). A lot of the episodes are available on YouTube for those of you who are not subscribed to TV Japan.

The only downside of this show is that my children now beg me to buy a pet every day…

ゆめがあるなら: Animated Picture Books and Songs

12 Feb


Our current favorite Japanese YouTube Channel is “動く絵本・童話童謡のゆめあるチャンネル“. (Translation: Animated Picture Books/Children’s Songs Full of Dreams Channel). There are dozens of wonderful and classic Japanese songs and stories made into quality animated videos. Check it out! Those of you with young toddlers or preschool-age children will especially love it! 🙂 You may also want to check out their website, and free iPad/iPhone app.


Here are some videos by Yumegaarunara (some videos are in English):

PS Valentine’s Day is in 2 days! You can read my past posts about Japan-inspired Valentine’s Day activities HERE.

の:ノンタン (Nontan)

27 Jan

One of my favorite Japanese children’s book characters is Nontan/ノンタン! He is a mischievous, curious, fun-loving kitty cat. The book series is written and illustrated by Sachiko Kiyono (キヨノサチコ) and have been around since I was a little girl. There are books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. The illustrations are adorable and the stories are cute, short, and perfect for little ones. Here are some of the books:

image from

My children really enjoy having these books read to them. There’s a book for every occasion: potty-training, taking a bath, making friends, birthdays, Christmas, and most frequently… playing! I bet these books would be really popular in the United States too, if they were translated into English. The characters are so universally relatable. I highly recommend this series for children.

Next time you visit Japan, or a Japanese bookstore, take a look in the children’s section of the bookstore. I am sure you will find some of these adorable books! There are also Nontan DVD’s/TV shows too. Columbia makes a newer show called “Genki Genki Nontan/げんきげんきノンタン” and you can find some older Nontan episodes on YouTube:

What are some of your favorite Japanese children’s book characters? I would love to hear!


Click on “Select Category” –> “Books & Stories” in the sidebar for more book recommendations.

Want to learn more? LOVE Nontan? They just launched an official Nontan Blog.(I am drooling over the cute stuffed animals and iPhone covers!)

Find worksheets to practice writing の HERE!

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