Archive | Other Blogs RSS feed for this section

Buying Japanese Children’s Books, DVD’s, etc.

17 May

“Dog Loves Books”, by Louise Yates

Over a year ago, I wrote up a post about “How to Get Japanese Children’s Books.” It has been one of my most popular posts, so there must be many of you out there searching for books for your children! A year ago, it was very difficult to find Japanese books online. I am here to tell you that it is now easier!

I have been browsing eBay recently and have been pleasantly surprised to find that there are now many more people selling Japanese children’s books, DVDs, other educational materials, and toys… and at pretty decent prices.

To search on your own, just go to and search for “Japanese Children’s Books”, “Japanese Children’s DVD’s”, “Kodomo Challenge”, “Anpanman”, “Hiragana Charts”, or whatever it is you are looking for, and you’ll probably find stuff. I should probably go through the stuff I don’t need anymore and sell them on eBay too! (the American version) still lacks a great selection, but you can see the ones that I have found HERE. One of my readers, Louise, emailed me to let me know that a book she has written called “Dog Loves Books” is now available in Japanese. It looks adorable! Good job Louise! (Amazon Japan) is the best place to buy Japanese children’s books and DVDs. They will now ship to most countries outside the U.S., and shipping costs are more affordable than they used to be. has written a good post about other online retailers that sell Japanese Children’s Books.

If you and your children enjoy Japanese children’s magazines like ベビーブック and たのしい幼稚園, you can order an issue or subscribe for 6months~year at They also have subscriptions to “Kodomo no Tomo“, a company that sends you children’s books each month. I have a local friend who does this for her daughter and they really enjoy receiving new books each month.

Don’t forget about Benesse’s Kodomo Challenge program too (with Shimajiro). Read my post about it HERE.


Whew! Did that help anyone out there? Have you made any cool discoveries lately? Where do you buy your Japanese books?

P.S. I am not getting paid by anyone to advertise their stores or products!

The Japan Society

5 Feb

NYC’s Japan Society has a YouTube Channel with many wonderful Japanese videos.

They also have a blog and official website. It looks like they have a lot of great content!

The Japan Society’s mission, as stated on their website, is:

“Japan Society is the leading U.S. organization committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language and education.  “

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!

Year of the Dragon Blog Carnival

23 Jan

Happy Lunar New Year! I was asked to submit an article about being an Asian-American mom to the MomsRising Year of the Dragon Blog Carnival. I feel honored to be included in the lineup of other powerful Asian-Americans. I decided to write about the reasons why I love raising my half-Japanese children. My  husband sometimes accuses me of being a “glass half-empty” kind of person, so in 2012, I want to focus on being a more positive person, especially towards my children. Click HERE to read what I wrote! What are some reasons why you love your children (Asian-American or not)?  I challenge you to write down 10 things you love about them in your journal, baby book, or blog. I would love it if you tweet, like, or share the article in other ways if you enjoy it :).

P.S. I now have a Hiragana Mama Twitter account. I know. I told myself I would NEVER join Twitter. I just want to try it out and see what it’s all about. If you want to follow me, just search for HiraganaMama. But I warn you, I have no idea what I’m doing.

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!

Dorayaki/ どらやき

1 Nov

Dorayaki is an easy treat for kids (and adults!) that doesn’t take much time and can be frozen for later use. I adapted my recipe from the Shizuoka Gourmet blog. (I tried several other recipes and this seemed the most authentic to me).


Ingredients (6 servings):

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1.5 T honey

1 T vegetable oil

1 T mirin

1/3 t baking soda

1 cup flour

1/4 cup water

sweet anko paste


1. In the order listed, mix one ingredient at a time in a large bowl until everything is mixed together except for the sweet anko paste.

2. Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat. Wipe a very thin layer of oil on the pan with a paper towel.

3. Pour the batter onto the hot pan (about 1/4 cup at a time). Try to make each circle the same size.

4. (just like you’re making pancakes), flip over when the top begins to bubble. It should have a golden brown color when flipped.

5. Cook a few more minutes then transfer onto a plate.

6. When cooled slightly, spread a generous layer of anko between 2 pancakes.  If you’d like, wrap each individual dorayaki in saran wrap to help it hold its shape.

7. Eat right away or freeze (wrapped in saran wrap).


Other Dorayaki Notes:

I have heard that you can mix grated carrots into the batter to make dorayaki more healthy. Great idea!

To make it more unhealthy, you can also add whipped cream to the anko filling. YUMMERS!

My friend Nami just blogged about Dorayaki too! I haven’t tried her recipe yet but I am sure it is awesome, because everything I’ve made from her site has been delicious.

I can’t mention dorayaki without mentioning Doraemon. He is a famous cartoon character who LOVES to eat dorayaki! Click HERE to read my blog post about him!

Giant Origami at Design Mom

15 Aug


Do you all follow Design Mom’s blog? She has the best ideas. Today she posted about making giant origami. Think of the possibilities! Giant animals, boxes, toys… what do you think would be the coolest thing to make with a giant piece of paper? As soon as I can get my hands on a big piece of paper, we are trying this.

Check out my post about origami for even more ideas!

プリン/ Purin

12 Aug


If you ask a group of Japanese children what their favorite dessert it, I can almost guarantee several of them will say “purin/ぷりん”! Purin is not pudding… the texture is more jello-like, but not as bouncy. It is similar to a flan, but better! My dad asks for purin every year for his birthday.

Recently, I have been really enjoying Nami‘s blog, “Just One Cookbook“.  Nami makes the most delicious-looking Japanese food, and posts clear, easy-to-follow instructions. I have made her tonkatsu and it was the best I’ve ever made!

When I found her recipe for purin(creme caramel), I knew I had to try it right away. I was intrigued by the use of gelatin and that it required no baking.

A food scale is a MUST for Japanese cooking! Thanks mom for getting me this one.

red is my favorite color in the kitchen 🙂

Making purin is maybe not for the kitchen novice or someone who hates washing dishes. But holy cow…  the purin turned out AMAZING! It was better than store-bought for sure. I had to exercise extreme self-control to not eat the entire batch in one sitting. (Confession: It is Day 2 and it’s all gone). The taste and texture were perfect and the caramel sauce was divine!

Purin, ready to be enjoyed!

I’m already thinking about when I want to make purin again. I have a feeling I’ll be making purin many more times this year! My kids, of course, loved it too and licked up every last drop of it then chanted “More purin!”. Thanks Nami for an awesome recipe! I am seriously planning to try almost every recipe she has shared. If you love Japanese food, I know you too will love her blog. Check it out!

The Japan Blog List

27 Jul

Do you love to read about the adventures of foreigners living in Japan? Or Japanese in Japan/America? Maybe you just love all things Japan or enjoy discovering new blogs in general. Then you should definitely visit They are constantly updating their list of Japan-related blogs (they currently have over 350!). I wish I had the time to visit each blog. Do you have a favorite Japan-related blog? If you are the author of a Japan-related blog, you should add yours to the list!

Cool Mom: Laurie at o-cha to wagashi

25 Jul

Have you stumbled upon the blog, “o-cha to wagashi” by blogger Laurie yet? If you haven’t, you’ll want to!

Laurie is similar to me… except, way more talented and cool. We are both trying to help our toddlers learn Japanese and both love Japanese culture and language, BUT she takes better photographs, makes yummier, more beautiful food (her bento boxes are amazing!), and she is not only bilingual, but TRILINGUAL! And she isn’t even Japanese! How’s that for amazing?!? She blogs in French but thanks to Google Translate, you can read her blog in whatever language you choose.

Laurie is someone I KNOW I would want to be friends with if I lived in France. I asked her if she would be willing to share a little but about herself and what she is doing to teach her son Japanese with us. Thanks Laurie!


Interview with Laurie of o-cha to wagashi:

1) Tell us a little bit about your background.

I am a 33 year-old mama, living in France.
I have been in love with Japan for as long as I can remember, maybe all my life. Japan is my passion, I’ve been blogging about it for 7 years now. I visited the country 4 years ago and the time I spent there definitely was one of the most life-altering moments I’ve had the chance to live. A couple of years after I came back in France I became the mother of a little boy who’s now just about to turn 2 years old (on July 27 !).


2) Why do you want to teach your child Japanese?

Well, it wasn’t really my intention at first. I tend to believe that parents cannot raise a bilingual child unless they know perfectly well the two languages they’re teaching. And it’s not the case here, for both my husband and I are French (and although we’re doing okay in Japanese, we’re not bilingual). We live in a very Japanese environment nevertheless. Because we both take our Japanese language studies very seriously we often address one another in Japanese at home. Plus, we watch Japanese TV all the time (TV shows, dorama, movies).
When our baby turned 6 months old (and absolutely despised solid food – he still does by the way), I started to show him videos of “inai inai baa” and “okaa san to issho”to divert him during meals and… it worked ! Well, it did not magically make him like food, but at least he’d eat whatever was in his plate. Then, later (and much to my surprise), the very first words he said were Japanese. We were amazed at how much he actually remembered of everything he heard ! His dad and I thought it would be sad to let such a chance go to waste, and decided to go on teaching him two languages.

3) What are you doing to accomplish this goal?

We sing Japanese nursery rhymes to him, show him Japanese TV shows (inai inai baa, okaa san to issho, miitsuketa, kodomo challenge, etc) as well as Ghibli animation movies (he just adores Totoro !). We read Japanese books to him, we use Japanese picture books to let him name the objects he knows… One of our good Japanese friends lives with us at the moment, so he and my son get to spend a lot of time playing and speaking Japanese together. And soon, he’ll go to a Japanese playgroup in our town.
Of course, the great material and ideas I find on Hiragana Mama are incredibly valuable help !

4) What is your favorite Japanese children’s book?

Kodomo zukan (series of 4 books).

5) Anything else you want to share..?

I’m constantly looking for cheaper ways to find Japanese educational material for my son. Where I live this is quite difficult (and/or very expensive). So, any help, hints or ideas from other readers are welcome !

See? I told you she was cool! Be sure to visit her blog HERE to see what she’s up to. I love discovering other parents around the world who are rising up to the challenge of teaching their children a second (or third) language. Are you a parent trying to raise bilingual/trilingual children? Do you blog about it? What are your favorite blogs/websites/resources? Let us know!

%d bloggers like this: