Tag Archives: Japanese

“Mio the Beautiful”: An interview with author Kinota Braithwaite

2 Mar

Representation is a powerful thing. When I was a child growing up in the United States, I did not see many books or shows that had characters that looked like me. As a result, I often felt like an “other” and did everything I could to try and fit in with the majority. I did not like “looking different.”

Several years ago, when I watched the movie “Wonder Woman” in the theater, I literally gasped and felt like cheering in the opening scenes when women are shown as powerful warriors. I thought, “This is the power of feeling represented.” I again had a similar feeling when I watched “Crazy Rich Asians.” It felt freeing to see so many people who looked like me in a major movie. Recently I had the experience of reading the picture book “Eyes That Kiss In the Corners” and was overcome with emotion as I read it out loud to my daughter. No children’s book I had read had ever stated that Asian eyes were beautiful before.

I’m grateful that in recent years many wonderful children’s books have been published featuring a wider range of cultures, nationalities, experiences, and ideas. In the United States, we are seeing more diversity in books.

I do not think that children’s books in Japan have quite as much diversity or representation… yet. But one book is giving me hope: “Mio the Beautiful“, by Kinota Braithwaite. Kinota decided to write this book after his young biracial daughter was bullied at her school in Japan. Unlike some other parts of the world, classrooms in Japan are still mostly ethnically homogeneous, so it is easy to stand out if you look different. This book tackles the issue of racism in a gentle way and encourages teachers and children to be kind to one another.

I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Kinota and his daughter over Zoom. I am not comfortable or a natural in front of the camera, but I hope you will watch and enjoy. The best part of the video is Kinota and his daughter Mio reading their book out loud together in English and Japanese (starting at the 7:00 mark).

Thank you Kinota and Mio!

You can purchase their book here:

  1. Amazon (US)
  2. Amazon (Japan)

Online Japanese Classes for Kids

26 Feb

What a year it has been! When COVID-19 shut down our schools in March 2020, I thought for sure my kids would be attending school and other activities “like normal” by the fall. Instead, they have been going back-and-forth from remote-learning to in-person learning (with social-distancing and masks), and most after-school activities have been cancelled or on Zoom.

To be honest, I was very skeptical of online learning at first. And indeed, there was a big learning curve in the beginning for both students and teachers (many tears were shed). In-person learning is ideal for most situations BUT I’ve learned that online classes are not all bad. Creative and innovative teachers around the world have stepped up to the plate and made online learning WORK. Technology has allowed us access to amazing classes and teachers, and we have saved so much time and money by not having to travel to lessons.

The Japanese Language School that my children attend is now all on Zoom, and many other Japanese Schools around the world have also gone online. Some have open enrollment, meaning anyone can sign up. I have seen an increase in Japanese class offerings on popular educational sites like Outschool. So while travel to Japan may still not be possible at this time, we can use technology to our advantage and have Japan come to our homes.

Here are a few online resources I recommend:


  1. Cafetalk.com

I am a fan of Cafetalk! I have blogged about them before (read here). My children took private Japanese lessons and their teachers were excellent. I thought the pricing was reasonable and scheduling was easy. Not only can you take Japanese language lessons, but you can also learn other skills (in Japanese!) like music, dance, abacus, art, etc.


2) Outschool.com

I have personally not used Outschool before but have heard many great things about their classes. I have actually considered teaching for them, and can tell you that they have high standards for the teachers they hire. They have several beginner and intermediate Japanese classes currently available.


3) Classes by JASC (Japanese American Service Committee)

Donguri-Kai by JASC

Their Winter II classes have just begun but you might still be able to sign up.

“Donguri Kai continues to provide Japanese education through online classes for children from kindergarten to elementary school. Class meets in a live online classroom once a week to fortify reading, pronunciation, conversation, and communication in Japanese. Teachers interactively guide students to enhance their communication skills. Students interact on-screen to stimulate and encourage each other through various learning activities.”


Tampopo Kai

“Tampopo Kai is an online Japanese cultural program for preschoolers. Through various engaging activities such as singing, storytelling, and arts & crafts, children and their parents are exposed to the richness of the Japanese language and culture.

Topics that will be covered in Tampopo Kai classes are, but not limited to: Japanese holidays, customs, traditions; Japanese vocabulary words (e.g. colors, numbers, shapes, sizes, family members, greetings, seasons, weather, body parts); Japanese arts (songs, kamishibai-style Japanese story boards, origami).”

They currently meet twice a week on Zoom! Sign up here.


4) Free, self-paced lessons

I think the best way to learn Japanese, especially for a beginner, is to have a real-life teacher who interacts with you. But if you want to learn at your own pace, or want to learn for free, some of the following resources might be for you!

duolingo

My 12-year old uses this app to help maintain her Japanese. It is great for learning and reviewing vocabulary.

Easy Japanese Conversation Lessons by NHK

A wonderful series of 48 lessons that teaches basic conversational skills as well as teaching about the Japanese culture.

NHK for School

I’ve shared this resource before (here) but it’s worth repeated mentions. Hundreds of 10-minute videos covering a wide range of subjects such as Japanese grammar, math, history, science, and bullying. Videos are for preschool though high-school students. Often, there are accompanying printable worksheets and questions you can use along with the videos.

And then of course, there’s many YouTube channels and even Instagram pages that teach Japanese. Those are all awesome supplements and fun/entertaining but I find that it’s easy for kids to watch them mindlessly instead of putting in the work of learning Japanese.


Are you aware of any other online classes for learning Japanese? Please share in the comments section!

Be sure to follow Hiragana Mama on facebook for more frequent updates!

Netflix Shows for Kids You Can Watch in Japanese

3 Apr

Here is a list of Netflix shows that you can watch in Japanese (in the United States). Just click on the language selection button on the bottom right corner and choose Japanese. Let me know if you know of any others in the comments!

(P.S. I’ve also been posting A LOT of Japanese learning resources on my facebook page recently, so hop on over! https://www.facebook.com/HiraganaMama.Blog)

(I’ve also received some feedback that the Japanese language option is not working for some of you for these shows! I am so sorry. I am not sure why it works for some and not others.)

  1. Teasing Master Takagi-san (my kids’ favorite! Best for tweens)
  2. PJ Masks (for preschoolers)
  3. Care Bears & Cousins (younger children)
  4. Robocar Poli (preschool? I haven’t watched it)
  5. Llama Llama (TV-Y)
  6. Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back (Pretty sure all the Pokemon shows can be watched in Japanese! Just search “Pokemon” in the search bar.)
  7. Minecraft Story Mode (TV-PG)
  8. Brainchild (TV-G)
  9. Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures (TV-Y)
  10. Spirit- Riding Free (TV-Y7)
  11. Starbeam (TV-Y)
  12. Dragons Rescue Riders (TV-Y)
  13. Magic Schoolhouse Rides Again (TV-Y)
  14. True (TV-Y)
  15. Hello Ninja (TV-Y)
  16. Lu Over the Wall (PG)
  17. Stranger Things (PG-14… for teens!)
  18. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (PG)
  19. Angela’s Christmas (TV-Y)
  20. The Princess Switch (TV-G)
  21. K-On the Movie (PG)
  22. Flavors of Youth: International Version (TV-PG)
  23. Julie’s Greenroom (TV-Y)
  24. Little Miss Sumo (TV-G)
  25. Treehouse Detectives (TV-Y)
  26. Archibald’s Next Big Thing (TV-Y)
  27. Ask the Storybots (TV-Y)
  28. The Investigators (TV-Y)
  29. Chip and Potato (TV-Y)
  30. Lalaloopsy (TV-Y)
  31. Carmen San Diego (PG)
  32. Who Was? Show (PG)
  33. Anne with an E (TV-PG)
  34. Case Closed (TV-14)
  35. Captain Underpants (TV Y7)
  36. Glitch Techs (TV-G)
  37. Fuller House (TV-PG)
  38. Nino-Kuni (TV-14)
  39. Rilakkuma and Kaoru (TV-PG)
  40. Samurai Gourmet (TV-PG)

I am sure there are so many more. I didn’t feel like checking ALL the shows!

I found it interesting that some of the shows I thought for SURE would have Japanese dubs, didn’t! For example Beyblade Burst, Glitter Force, Sonic the Hedgehog, Yo-Kai Watch, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and Power Rangers.

Note: This worked for me from a PC. Some users are having trouble switching the languages from their Roku or other devices.

 

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