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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!)

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Kendama Toy (great for all ages!)

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Vive Le Color! Japan Coloring Book for Adults

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

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

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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)

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

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Yokai Watch Karuta (for your Yokai Watch fanatic)

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

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Pack of Japanese Snacks

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Uncle Goose Hiragana Wood Blocks

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

Kodomo Challenge Live!こどもちゃれんじライブ授業

19 Jul

Just discovered a new TV series by Kodomo Challenge called “こどもちゃれんじライブ授業“, where children can explore many different things like various occupations, yoga, English, animals, etc. The episodes are shown “live” (children in Japan who own the Kodomo Challenge Tablet can participate in the show as they watch).  In Japan, the show is on every Saturday morning. I’m not sure if it’s viewable on any TV stations elsewhere. Here are two YouTube videos I found. The first is an episode exploring a Japanese bakery, and the second is about the mysteries of animals. Enjoy!

 

BONUS Kodomo Challenge Videos, “ともだちできたよ”, “はじめましてこんにちは”, and “リトミック/ダンス”. Watch them quick :) Sometimes they get taken down after awhile.



Anpanman Cake Pops ♥

11 Jul

Over the 4th of July weekend, I went to a BBQ with my family. Several Japanese families joined us. My sister’s contribution to the potluck BBQ were these adorable Anpanman cake pops! They were a huge hit with the kids. You can visit Bakerella.com’s website for basic instructions on how to make cake pops. To make these Anpanman pops, my sister used chocolate cake mix, meltable butterscotch chocolates, round red sprinkles, and a black edible pen.

 

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Imagine the possibilities with all of the Anpanman characters (Baikinman, Melonpanna-chan, etc). Cuteness overload.

Do you love Anpanman? Read my post about my son’s Anpanman-themed birthday party HERE, or about our trip to the Anpanman Children’s Museum, HERE!

 

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Olympics ♥

16 Feb

I love love love love love the Olympics. I am not much of a TV-watcher, but for two weeks during the Olympics, I lose a lot of sleep due to staying up late trying to watch as much as I can! When I was a college student back in the day, I had the opportunity to volunteer as an assistant to the Japanese Team during the Salt Lake Olympics. My job included driving members of the team to various events and other places, translation, and general assistance. I often worked inside the Olympic Village and had to try hard to control the urge to not take pictures or ask for autographs when I saw Michelle Kwan, Apolo Anton Ohno, etc. If the Olympics ever come to you, I highly recommend volunteering!

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One of my blog readers requested that I post some links about the Olympics and here’s what I’ve gathered so far :).

1) Official Website for the Japanese Olympic Committee: http://www.joc.or.jp/english/

Go here to see the names of all the different events in Japanese: http://www.joc.or.jp/games/olympic/sochi/sports/

2) A great summary of the Sochi Olympics for children (in Japanese), by Yahoo Kids: http://topic.kids.yahoo.co.jp/article/sochi_olympic/

3) “What is the Olympics?” for children, in Japanese (with furigana): http://www.lib.adachi.tokyo.jp/kids/toshokann/siraberu/siraberu_back/sirabveru0807.html

4) Q&A with future Japanese Olympians, also by Yahoo Kids: http://topic.kids.yahoo.co.jp/mag/olympic2020/

Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, the Japanese athlete that has probably received the most screen time (I think he is amazing!):

As most of you already know, Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics. If you are able, GO! Japan always does an incredible job hosting big events, public transportation is awesome, and uh… what’s not to love about visiting Japan? If you can’t get tickets to the regular games, I recommend the Paralympic Games too. I’ve been to a Paralympics Ice Hockey game, and it was incredible.

Look at this adorable bento box that Shirley of Little Miss Bento made! My kids would love it if I made them bento that looked this cute (and yummy).

Tokyo Olympic 2020 Bento

What events and athletes have you been following?

Things To Do In Japan With Kids: Visit Kyoto

9 Jan

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I’m itching to visit Japan again. Oh how I wish I could be one of those people who can go every year! I was looking through our Japan Trip 2012 pictures and realized I never shared pictures from our day in Kyoto.

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Kyoto would be a wonderful place to visit as a couple, by yourself, or with friends… but it is also very kid-friendly. There are many things to see and do and it is very walkable. Not to mention just GORGEOUS! You can’t fly all the way to Japan and NOT see Kyoto. We only had one day to spend in Kyoto, so we went to see Kiyomizudera and the surrounding area.

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(not super stroller-friendly)

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If you visit Kyoto, be prepared to eat a lot of delicious food and buy beautiful souvenirs.

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Would you pay a thousand dollars for this Totoro stuffed animal?

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Kyoto is one of my favorite places in Japan to visit. Next time, I would love to spend several days there… perhaps in the fall to see the 紅葉 (leaves changing colors).

I’m going to start saving my pennies so we can go to Japan again! Does anyone in Japan want to offer my non-Japanese speaking husband a job? LOL.

DIY Training Chopsticks (トレーニングはし)

10 Oct

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Recently, we took the kids to a Japanese restaurant, where they ordered a bowl of ramen. I was delighted when the waitress brought them some training chopsticks. As I studied the chopsticks, I realized it is super easy to make yourself! It took me a few tries to get the tension just right, but it WAS really easy. So the next time you go out to eat at an Asian restaurant, just take along a rubberband (or hair tie) and you are ready to make your own training chopsticks in just a few minutes!

I made you a short video so you can see exactly how it’s done:

After I published my video, I saw that a few others have made similar videos. You can watch them all to see which technique works best for you ;)

Please share with your friends who have children, or adults who have yet to master the art of using chopsticks!

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P.S. Eating Japanese food with a fork is silly. Learn to use chopsticks! (past post about training chopsticks here)

Click HERE and scroll down to see how to use real chopsticks.

2013 Kodomo No Hi /こどもの日!

5 May

Happy Children’s Day! I know I am late getting this post up… sorry! I hope everyone had a wonderful day. I am so grateful for my own children who bring so much fun and love into my life, and for all the other children I know!

Today we invited some friends over for a special Okosama Lunch (lunch for children).

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This year’s Okosama lunch(お子様ランチ) featured shrimp fried rice, potato and beef croquettes/korokke, and purin for dessert.

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At Japanese School, they made kabuto hats out of newspaper:

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And lastly, I want to show off my awesome mom. She teaches at a Japanese preschool (wish she lived closer!) and always comes up with the best ideas for crafts. For Kodomo No Hi this year, she and the children made these paper bag koinobori. She said she just used brown paper bags from the grocery store. I want to try making these next year!

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For  more Japanese Children’s Day ideas, just search “Kodomo No Hi” in the search toolbar to the right! :) Lots more ideas on my Pinterest board as well. Thank you for reading!

2013 Koinobori Crafts

30 Apr

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This Sunday, May 5 is Boys Day/Childrens Day (Kodomo no Hi) in Japan.

Our family celebrates by:

– Displaying Koinobori (previous posts with more info HERE and HERE)

– Making a samurai hat out of newspaper (planning to post about that soon)

– Eating Okosama Lunch (previous lunch HERE. this year I plan on making fried rice, ebi-fry, korokke, and purin)

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Craft #1

Since we don’t have giant koinobori (こいのぼり) windsocks to display outdoors, I decided to make a small koinobori bunting (ガーランド) to display inside our house. I made one koi for each member of our family. This little banner reminds me how much I love my little family!

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To make your own, you will just need:

– felt

– googly eyes

– glue gun

– embroidery thread and needle

– glitter glue

– ribbon

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I don’t have a pattern… I just free-handed it. Cut out your koi shapes, glue on the eyes with a glue gun, add scales using glitter glue, and embroider if you desire and attach a ribbon for hanging. Easy! Took me less than 2 hours, not including drying time for the glue. I think mine would look better if I had rainbow colored string or ribbon to string my koinobori.

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There are so many cute koinobi garland ideas online! Here are a few that I thought were especially cute:

– Origami Koi Garland from DekiruNavi (would work double-time for Cinco de Mayo too!)

– Another koinobori felt garland idea, found on Rakuten. I love the pom-poms!

– A super simple and colorful koinobori garland by maki maeda’s blog

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Craft #2

In my craft stash, I found pieces of chipboard I had purchased at a craft store (Michaels) for less than a dollar per pack awhile ago. They turned out to be the perfect shape for making koinobori! My daughter decorated hers using oil pastels.

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What crafts, food, or activities do you have up your sleeve for Kodomo No Hi (こどものひ)?  Please share (and send me photos)! Check back soon for more posts about Boys Day!

Kodomo Challenge Video

9 Jul

Here’s another great Kodomo Challenge video starring Shimajiro :) This episode has Japanese greetings, food, colors, vehicles, songs, and more. Enjoy!

Click on the “YouTube Videos” category under “Topics” to see more Japanese children’s videos.

Anpanman-Themed Birthday Party

5 Jun

My party may pale in comparison to Karen’s Sumo Party, but a few weeks ago, we celebrated my son’s birthday with an Anpanman party!! My son doesn’t say too many words yet, but he does know how to say “Anpanman”!

 

Party games are tricky with 2-year olds. They can’t follow directions really well and their attention spans are really short. So I decided to just do some things that my son naturally likes to do:

1) Throwing: We threw balls at Baikinman (I made him out of a cardboard box) and tried to knock him over. It was a hit!

2) Hide-and-Seek: I hid little Anpanman and Baikinman figurines under cups and had the kids guess where they were.

3) Hitting: I bought a generic pinata from Target, pasted some Anpaman pictures on it, and filled it with candy. They had a great time hitting it!

For food, I made some Anpanman-character cookies using sandwich molds I bought while we were in Japan. We also had “An-Punch” (fruit slush punch). I would have loved to make actual anpan too (anko-filled bread) but I was not that ambitious :). We also had some finger foods for the adults. We ordered a blank ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and I decorated it myself.

My kids wore the Anpanman shirts we bought at the Anpanman Children’s Museum in Yokohama.

Guests were sent home with these treat bags, filled with snacks, Anpanman candy, and little Japanese kaleidoscopes.

I bought these balloons in Japan and had the local party store put helium in them.

It was a quick, simple party but my son was THRILLED. Being the second child, he doesn’t get the spotlight very often so he really enjoyed his special day. Thanks to our friends and family, and Anpanman, for this fun birthday!

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