I am always curious about other families like us (trying to teach their children Japanese). Where do they live? Why do they want to teach their children the Japanese language and culture, and how do they do it? What is their cultural background? Do they have a blog? What’s their story?

This page is under construction, but I am hoping that in the future, I will have guest posts by other families, sharing their experiences with us. All of those posts will be showcased on this page.

If you are interested in sharing your family’s story on my blog, please send me an email at hiraganamama at gmail dot com. I am hoping it will be a great way for all of us to connect, find support, share tips, discover new resources for learning, and maybe make new friends!

45 Responses to “Families”

  1. santiago at 8:26 PM #

    Well my mother is helping me learn Japanese culture and language because of my determination to learn it. She has bought me some software and is even in the process of getting me a tutor. We come from a Hispanic background. Our family is generations out of spain and I myself moved to America from Colombia. I am not contempt with learning just a few phrases and memorizing how to spell or read a few words. I am into engineering and would love to get a job in Japan in around 6 years to help fix all the problems with overcrowding and develop new technologies .I want to learn from scratch and I am glad you have already gathered some resources for me to use. Thank You Hiragana

  2. Gemma at 10:20 PM #

    Hi! I’m an Italian mum, married to a Japanese and raising my children trilingual (Italian, Japanese and English) in the UK. Our daughters are 3 and a half and 2 yrs old.
    Your blog looks very interesting and I’m sure I’ll find very useful resources for my girls!

  3. adohrenwend at 1:57 AM #

    Hi Hiragana Mama!

    We are an English speaking American family living in Tokyo. Both my husband and I beginners in the Japanese language and we have two daughters who were born here in Japan aged 1 and 3. We are hoping to send our girls to Japanese school so we are starting to teach them hiragana and read simple Japanese books to them. Your website has been a great resource already. We are preparing for Hina Matsuri and we are going shopping for ingredients to make strawberry daifuku and chirashi zushi tonight. Thanks for all the info on your site. My daughters love watching the Japanese youtube videos you post.


    • Hiragana Mama at 3:25 PM #

      That is great! Sounds like your daughters will become bilingual for sure 🙂

  4. gavinpollock at 9:54 AM #

    I’m a Scots artist/teacher/occasional artists’ model (hey, whatever pays the rent!) and full time single dad to two Nagasaki girls.

    One art project I did for my teaching qualification was a bilingual book for chibis which I just loaded up to the Amazon Kindle store here;
    Apologies for the spamming 😉 But I have a reason; bilingual books are pretty hard to come by even in English, if anyone wants to put it into other languages for their bilingual kids, I’m quite happy to put it up on Kindle for free download for them. It’s never going to be a huge money spinner anyway!

  5. gavinpollock at 10:17 AM #

    Just to add, I’ve downloaded it myself just now and the formatting is all wrong, so nobody buy it until I’ve sorted it out ;(

  6. kmaruyam at 10:27 AM #

    I am a Nikkei Sansei who lived in Japan for 5 years (Nagoya for 2 years and Tokyo for 3 years). My Italian American husband and I have 3 children, a 5 year old girl, 3 year old boy, and 8 month old boy. I have been trying to teach them about Japan through the holidays, foods, and books and TV. My 3 year old is crazy about sumo! We watch the sumo bassho faithfully every 2 months, and he loves Baruto, Hakuho, and Harumafuji.

  7. Carol at 11:07 AM #

    I am an American Mom of a 5 yr old Daughter. My husband was born in America with a German father and a Japanese mother. My mother in law passed away two years after my daughter’s birth. Needless to say my Daughter will never know her grandmother “Mamo”. My husband is teaching her some basic Japanese. He was taught French by his mother and not Japanese. :O) So I am trying to keep the Japanese alive for my daughter. I LOVE your website very much. My only problem is I have no idea where to start with my daughter. I have printed a Hiragana chart that my so my daughter and I can learn together. Is this a good place to start learning to speak/read Japanese? Thank you for your website.

  8. Sharon at 3:44 PM #

    My husband and I are both Caucasian and living in America. We lived in Japan briefly which is where I was when I found out I was expecting our first child. We decided to come home where our situation was more stable but the experience stuck with us and we decided to continue our Japanese studies here and to include our two children in it. It’s valuable to know more than one language and to have cultural sensitivity and it’s fun too. We’re hoping to eventually add Chinese to the mix but are sticking with just Japanese/English for now. Our kids are far from bilingual but have a pretty nice Japanese vocabulary that we are constantly increasing. They watch movies in Japanese and we translate some of their kids’ stories in Japanese. We play together while speaking Japanese and teach them words while we’re out and about. They even attend church monthly in Japanese and love it! I love your site and all the valuable resources it brings to us. We’ve gotten help in choosing age appropriate youtube clips, we’ve introduced a bit of hiragana, and we’ve gotten book ideas. Thanks for all your work!

    • Hiragana Mama at 7:55 AM #

      Thank you so much for your comments!! How are you able to attend a Japanese church in America? That’s pretty lucky. Good luck with everything!

      • Sharon at 11:24 AM #

        Sorry I didn’t respond to this a year ago when you asked. I wanted to gather more information before I answered. I think most cities probably wouldn’t have that option but mine does. I live in the Salt Lake City area and I know of four potential places, though I have not personally attended services at all of them:

        1. local Buddhist temple
        211 West 100 South, SLC (801-363-4742)

        2. Japanese Church of Christ
        268 West 100 South, SLC (couldn’t find a phone number. sorry.)

        3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon Church) has two congregations that meet (one in Salt Lake City and the other in Provo).
        2005 South 900 East, SLC (801-468-5861)
        1120 North 850 West, Provo (801-724-6220)

        These congregations tend to mount local festivals (Nihon Matsuri and Aki Matsuri are the ones I know of) and seem to be very supportive and friendly toward each other. My family is Mormon, so we attended services for our own faith but I have attended events at each site and found the congregations of each to be extremely friendly and welcoming. If anyone is in the area and looking for a service, go get involved! My family is 100% Caucasian and we were welcomed warmly at each place, despite the initial confusion of why we were there. 🙂

        • Hiragana Mama at 5:39 PM #

          Thanks for the follow-up, Sharon!!How cool that the churches do cultural festivals. I have 2 siblings in Utah so I’ll have to tell them to look it up. Mormons are awesome, btw 😉

  9. Sheena at 10:08 AM #

    My husband and I are both American, but I majored in International Relations and Asian Studies and minored in Japanese. (We live in Northwest Arkansas–the university here has an amazing Japanese program!)

    I’m hoping to get into the JET program or the Foreign Service in 2013. We have 3 kids (ages 4, 7, and 8), and I’m trying to teach them Japanese so that if/when I get a job in Japan they will know enough to get by and go to the local schools. I don’t want them in an international school. I want them to go to school with kids in the neighborhood and to be able to communicate. They already enjoy watching shows in Japanese, some animes (and they’ve even watched some J-dorama’s with me)!

    • Hiragana Mama at 8:57 PM #

      Good for you for doing what you can to prepare for the future!

      Who would have thought that Arkansas of all places would have a great Japanese program? That’s great!

      Good luck getting into the JET.

  10. Amy A at 5:57 PM #

    My husband, two young daughters and I have been living in Japan for 1 year. It’s been a real challenge for all of us to learn Japanese but it’s also been fascinating and rewarding. We’re heading back to our home in the U.S. and I want us all to keep learning once we’re there. Thank you for putting this page out there, it’s always great to find welcome communities of people for sharing knowledge ^_^

    • Hiragana Mama at 8:58 PM #

      Japanese is definitely a challenging language to learn, especially when you’ve only had a year to learn it!

      Have a wonderful trip back to the USA!

  11. Erika at 3:22 AM #

    My husband is stationed in Japan on a Marine Corps base in Iwakuni so my 3 year-old daughter and I are living here with him. I am studying Japanese, as well as the history and culture, as part of a 4 year degree program online through the University of Maryland. We are all American and have no Japanese ancestry, but I have been fascinated by Japan for years. I just never got motivated to learn more than the basics as far as language goes. We’ve already been here a year and I’m ready to really buckle down so that I can use the language before we have to move back to the U.S. in 2 more years. I considered putting my daughter in a yochien but have opted not to as we homeschool and it is very important to me that she be home with me. I found your site while looking for resources to keep my daughter and myself learning and growing in the Japanese language and culture during the rest of our stay here and beyond. Since we are homeschooling, I am currently working on the English alphabet and such with my daughter so I’m trying to figure out the best way to approach teaching her Japanese, as well, without completely confusing her.

    • Hiragana Mama at 12:06 PM #

      Sounds like a fun adventure! 🙂 Have you already checked out starfall.com for learning the alphabet?

      • Erika at 10:15 PM #

        Yes, starfall.com is in my arsenal for later in the year. My daughter Anya recognizes most of her letters but hasn’t gotten the hang of the fine motor skills necessary for tracing and writing yet so I’m working on that with her now by helping her write with my hand over hers and letting her trace with her finger instead of a pencil to get her ready for some of those awesome printouts starfall.com has. We do the animated games together, and my daughter loves them so far though I have to do the clicking and she dictates where to put the letters because she cannot get the hang of only clicking one half of the mouse. I need to get her a mouse made for little hands. : )

  12. Michi at 3:09 PM #

    Hi! I am a Japanese mom, raising 2 young children(almost 5 & 3 years old) in the U.S. My husband and I were born and raised in Japan, both of kids were born and are to be raised in the U.S. I think my kids’ situation is similar to yours as a child. My kids still speak Japanese better than English. However, as they acquire better command of English, how I can help with my children to keep and improve their Japanese is getting a new challenge for me. I am so glad to find your blog! Looking forward to reading your other posts.

    • Hiragana Mama at 2:37 PM #

      Thanks you for the visit, Michi! Are your children attending Japanese School? Growing up, my Japanese friends who attended Japanese School on Saturdays ended up being the most fluent as adults. I didn’t attend, but my parents worked really hard to teach me at home using Gakushuusho. It was definitely a struggle at times. Good luck!

      • Michi at 4:14 PM #

        Kids are still too young to attend Japanese School. I probably consider sending them to Japanese School when older one turns 1st grade of Japanese school system. Currently some of families with 5-6 year-olds gather once a week, and moms are trying to introduce children Japanese songs, kana-letters, stories etc. Very casual, small group. We are trying to find better way to keep kids’ interest, and usually find it very difficult! I’m simply amazed that you and your parents kept high motivation to learn, and made a lot of effort.

  13. tamara at 4:58 PM #

    im 15 so im teaching myself japanese so i know it isnt the easyest thing to do esspecially the structure of how you learn things im from the uk and it seems people where i live arnt that into japanese 🙂 just thought this would be fun to share

  14. Miwa at 3:46 AM #

    I just recently found your site and am very excited that I did. I think my background is very similar to yours–Japanese parents, raised in the US.

    My Japanese husband and I are trying to raise our daughter to be bilingual as well. Of course, she’s still only 15 months old so she doesn’t really say much in either language (just a few words in both). Our approach so far is that I speak to her in English and my husband speaks to her in Japanese. The only problem is that (since we’re in Japan) I have no choice but to use Japanese once we are out of the house… It’s been interesting to see that she seems to understand both languages equally, but prefers to reply in short, easy Japanese words. I’m hoping to hear a little more English from her down the line though 🙂

    Anyway, I will be looking forward to your posts!

  15. mai at 11:15 AM #

    Hajimemashite!! My name is Mai, and I had a couple of twin girls last year. I’m hoping to teach them Japanese (mainly so that they can communicate with their grandma who lives in Nagano), but their first language so far has been Spanish. Their dad is Cuban, and we live in Miami, FL, with hardly any exposure to Japanese. In fact, I was starting to get very discouraged about teaching the girls to become trilingual (between English, Spanish, and Japanese), since they’d have very limited, authentic interactions in Japanese, and I didn’t know if it would overwhelm their basic language learning. If you could give me any suggestions on how to give the girls the language exposure they’d need to start recognizing and speaking Japanese (pretty close to the Spanish phonetics), I would be grateful to you! If there’s any TV shows/videos, book sets (the single ehons are so pricey!), any quality programs/schools, that you’d recommend outside of your blogs, please let us know~ Your website’s been an amazing resource (I’ve already contacted Mitsuwa for the ehons). Thank you! Looking forward to more great ideas~

  16. Reina at 9:08 PM #

    Hiragana Mama, hajimemashite! I’m so relieved to have found your blog. I’m a first time mom (expecting in January) and am Japanese, living in the states. My husband is a Caucasian man with a love for Japanese culture and language but really doesn’t speak it. It’s great to know that others out there are raising their children in a bilingual/bicultural household! I can’t wait to learn more about your adventures! Just out of curiosity, how “fluent” would you say you are in Japanese? I am “fluent” as in I can communicate when I go to Japan but sometimes struggle to express my thoughts how I think them in English, even though Japanese is my first language!

    Anyway, arigato gozaimasu!

    • Hiragana Mama at 9:35 PM #

      Congratulations!! Your world is about to be rocked… in a good way 🙂

      I am moderately fluent in Japanese. I can have a conversation with Japanese people pretty easily, unless they want to talk about politics, business, or technical stuff with hard words. If you put a Japanese newspaper in front of me, I would have a really hard time reading it. I can read and write kanji at about a 3rd grade level, I think. My listening skills are better than my speaking. I am much, much more comfortable speaking English! I did minor in Japanese in college and strive to learn new words every day so i can keep up with my children.

      I’m glad you found my blog too! Life is so busy right now but I have a million things I want to blog about… hopefully I will get a chance soon!

  17. Tracey at 4:55 PM #

    I am a British mum with a Japanese husband and we have a 3 and half year old daughter being brought up Bilingually. I lived in Tokyo for 6 years so have a reasonable grasp of Japanese although we have been living in England now for 10 years. Our daughter understands Japanese quite well as she’s been talked to my daddy since the day she was born in Japanese. However, she doesn’t really like to use it that much. She is starting to learn some basic Hiragana thanks to the Anpanman letter set from Akachan Honpo. We use a lot of You tube for animation and DVDs that are sent over. We read to her in Japanese and are lucky that we have a number of Japanese friends locally that get together. I am concerned about her learning to read and write though as the nearest classes are in London over 1 hour away by car. Gambarimasu!!

  18. Ying To at 5:25 PM #

    I accidently ran into your website and thought it was interesting. I am not Japanese but I have learned Japanese when I was young. I am half Thai- Chinese. However, I only learn my mother’s language (Thai). I barely learn my father’s langauge (Chinese). Only get by with basic conversation. My father also speaks Thai fluently. (My father speaks Thai, Chinese and English). Thus, we don’t have a problem communicating. But I found it was difficult to speak to my grandmother (my dad’s side). I would love to be able to speak to my grandmother in Chinese!

    Now, having my own children, I vow to teach my kids languages. It is pretty tough for us because my husband speaks English and Vietnamese. I speak English and Thai. But I am not so good at speaking Thai to them. I ask all grandparents to speak their own languages to the kids. My kids are having a difficult time to speak Thai and Vietnamese but they understand both languages.

    I agree learning different languages will open up many opportunities and see the world differently. I encourage all parents to teach their kids.

    My kids speak English fluently. Understand Thai, Vietnamese. They are enrolled in Spanish Immersion school. I am teaching some Japanese to them.

    LOL so confusing family!

    • Hiragana Mama at 9:17 PM #

      Your children are so blessed to have such a rich cultural heritage. Sounds like you are doing the best you can to help them learn the languages. Perhaps one day when they are grown up they will pursue the language of their choosing in college.

  19. Akira at 4:41 PM #

    Hi, I’m a nisei in Brazil! My wife and I are using your blog to teach our children Japanese language. We have 4 children and they’re all 1-9, they learn English at school. My wife’s parents are from Korea, so they also learn Korean. I know Korean and my wife knows Japanese, the 2 older children already mastered Korean and Japanese. We have a paper on fridge, and each day we speak in a different language (Portuguese, Korean and Japanese) with them. Everything is going well!

    Now we have a plan of moving to Iwate-ken, the place where my parents were born, I’m so excited!

    Thanks for all the thing you’ve posted, my older daughter is now learning 4th grade kanji!

  20. Ebi at 11:21 PM #

    Hello ! I am ever so thankful for the wonderful Japanese teaching resources here and wanted to stop by to say hello and THANK YOU!

    We live in Singapore and the languages I, myself, speak are English, Japanese and Mandarin (although only speaking not so much writing for the latter). My child is only 14 months only and beginning to express herself in speech so I’ll be sure to visit your blog and keeping up with all the wonderful information here.

    We speak Japanese as a family and depending on my mood or the topic, I will speak in English or Japanese to my child. Strangely though, when I’m praising her, I do it in Japanese a lot as well as when I give instructions. LOL i wonder why?
    I’ve only just started blogging but want to explore more about Singapore and Japan and share that with my daughter.

  21. Milena at 2:34 PM #

    Hiragana Mama, konnichiwa!

    My name is Milena, I live in Vienna, my dad being Austrian, my mum Japanese. I was raised with two languages (German and Japanese) and am trying to teach my son Japanese (he is two and a half years old). Although my Japanese is not perfect, my husband insisted on my only talking Japanese with our son and right now this is the language that he prefers. I am happy that we made the decision to raise him bilingually.

    We just came back from am trip to Japan and although it´s been only two weeks, I can see what a difference it made.
    While we stayed in Japan, he really loved to watch “Okaasan to issho” (on NHK). Do you know if one can see the programme online?
    I am a great fan of your blog and have gained a lot of inspiration from it. Please do continue with it. It´s good to know that there are others who want to pass on their cultural heritage.

    Many greetings from Vienna.

    • Hiragana Mama at 9:32 PM #

      Thank you for the message, Milena! I don’t think you can watch it online, at least not legally :/ You could order some DVDs through amazon.co.jp . I think they ship worldwide.

  22. Alexandra Holly Hazell at 3:55 PM #

    I have just found your website. I am from America can my husband is British we live in the UK now but I used to live in Japan for a short time. We fell in love while I was living in Japan and have very good memories been there together. We wish to pass on the language to our daughter. Currently she is also learning baby sign language or BSL (British sign language) as well. I currently am teaching in the UK and I’m curious how I can combine English Japanese in sign language. My daughter is about 15 months old and just said her first to Japanese word ‘aka’ few days ago. I hope this website is still active as it is a great idea in a great way to keep in contact with other families learning Japanese.

    • Hiragana Mama at 1:42 PM #

      Hi! How wonderful you are teaching her sign language. I do not know much about that area of bilingualism.

  23. Andy at 3:29 AM #

    Hello Hiragana Mama

    I landed at your blog looking for materials to post around my daughter’s crib who is 1.5 months old. She’s staying awake for a few hours a day now so I figured the more Japanese she sees around her the better.
    My family is a bit of an odd ball. Neither myself or my wife are Japanese, we live in America, not Japan. I self-taught Japanese through 10+ years of anime, while my wife studied Japanese in her college (and self-taught Chinese), though neither of us speaks the language fluently. Our goal is for our daughter to be trilingual (Japanese, English, Vietnamese) at least, if not quadrilingual (+Chinese).
    While both my wife and I are in love with Japanese language and culture, due to our lack of experience in the Japanese community, even finding a Japanese nanny is proving difficult. In fact, I’ve only learnt about shichi-go-san as recent as my wife’s pregnancy.

    Your blog will likely be my bible for the next few years. Fingers crossed, I want my daughter to pick up Japanese first.
    Thank you

  24. nao to yuri no mama at 4:23 PM #

    Hi Hiragana mama! Thank you so much for making this blog!! My toddler is 2.5 yo and the little one is almost 1 yo. We live in Texas, and my husband is Mexican. Our goal is to have our kids become trilingual. I only speak to my kids in Japanese, and I can say that Naoki, my oldest speaks Japanese the most. I started looking for resources for my older one. I’m so thankful to you for making this site. I love the post on youtube channels, apps, and the print kids. I’m lacking a network of Japanese speaking families that my kids can play with:( Haven’t found one on meetup.com. Don’t really know where else to look:( Naoki is picking up English very quickly because when we have playdates, they speak English. He is learning quickly that English is the dominant language here… Thanks again for all your help!

    • Hiragana Mama at 11:51 AM #

      Thanks for your comment! Have you tried looking for Japanese schools in your area? I know there are about 6 Japanese Schools in Texas (but I realize it is a very big state). Those schools can be a wealth of information.

  25. Ryoko at 10:06 AM #

    I am so glad to come across your blog. Only wished I searched much earlier! I hope many others like me join and share their stories, comments and experiences.

    • Hiragana Mama at 10:03 PM #

      I am so sorry for the late reply, but thank you for visiting! I will try to update more often.

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