Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Japan. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Japan. Sort by date Show all posts

Exploring Japan Part 4 -- Fun Facts & Resource Round-Up

For the last three Mondays we have been exploring Japan. We started with some picture books, then looked at crafts and artists and then origami. Today we are looking at fun facts about Japan and doing a resource and activity round-up. But first some facts about Japan itself. Japan is called Nihon or Nippon in Japanese. It means "land of the rising sun". It was once believed that Japan was the first country to see the sun each morning. The country is made up of 6,582 islands, but has four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Three tectonic plates meet near Japan and cause many earthquakes. Japan experiences 1,000 earthquakes in a year. Some of these cause tsunamis. There are also 200 volcanoes in Japan. Sixty of them are still active. Almost three quarters of the land is covered by mountains and forest which make the land hard to farm or use for industry or residential. The Japanese Alps run down the center of the island of Honshu. Mount Fuji is the highest mountain/volcano in Japan and is considered sacred by many Japanese people. 

Global Learning for Kids

Have you entered my current giveaway? This is one you do not want to miss!!
 I am joining a group of Multicultural Kid Blogs to start a new series called Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will explore a country with books, music, crafts, lessons, food, etc. and share our exploration as well as have a link party so the posts will be a one-stop place to get many resources on the chosen country. This month we are starting with Japan! I wrote an introduction to the country of Japan over at Multicultural Kid Blogs to kick off Global Learning for Kids as well as the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway. (Make sure you stop by to enter the giveaway--there are some amazing prizes!!) We will be sharing posts about our exploration of Japan all month and later this month we will share two posts in the Blog Series and Giveaway (not having to do with just Japan). Make sure to follow this month!!

Since we are starting with Japan, I thought I would start with a round-up of everything we have already learned about Japan since we actually have quite a few posts with things about Japan in them.

A Westerners' Look at Tokyo & Japan


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

With the Tokyo Olympics still going on I thought this week I would share two books that have Westerner authors who have chosen lives in Japan. They share their experiences in their books. Both of these books are written for adults and definitely have some adult overtones to them. The first book is manga or a graphic novel. It is written by a French born author. It is Tokyo Love Story by Julie Blanchin Fujita and is bilingual in both English and Japanese. 

Exploring Japan with Books & Activities


Disclosure: I was sent these products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Since Monday was Memorial Day and I spent the weekend with family and friends I didn't do my multicultural post this week. Today I am going to share some of the resources I have to explore Japan. I know Japan will be a popular country to look at this summer with the Olympics being held in Tokyo. We will start with All About Japan by Willamarie Moore and illustrated by Kazumi Wilds. 

Exploring Japan with Books and More

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of this book free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

In the next few weeks we will be sharing our exploration of Japan. We started our exploration with an exploration of cherries which we will post about as one of our Friday Fruit Explorations. When I went to look at books about cherries I was reminded of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan and thought it was the perfect tie in for our exploration. I contacted Tuttle Publishing and asked for some books about Japan and Japanese. Today I am going to share/review two of them with you. The first book is My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown.
As with My First Book of Chinese Words which I reviewed in July, this book goes through the English alphabet sharing a Japanese word that starts with that sound. In the beginning the book has an introduction to Japanese as well as a pronunciation guide. To me one of the best part of these books is learning a bit about the culture and life in Japan. For example, t is for tanuki which is a raccoon dog. I did not know what a raccoon dog is, but found it interesting to see an animal we do not have that lives there. They also mention that Japan does not have skunks. Did you know that in Japan they have a version of Rock, Paper, Scissors? In this book you learn more about the train, food and animals of Japan. I find this book as a perfect introduction to studying Japan. It gives you an overview of things that are the same and different with our cultures and introduces the language at the same time.

The next book is Japanese Children's Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade. This is a fun book of traditional Japanese tales. This book has sequels since it has been so popular for sixty years. We love it! Hazel asks me to read her a couple of the stories each night. Through these traditional stories the reader learns a bit about Japanese culture. From the food and animals to jobs you see what life in Japan is and was like. Some stories talk about the islands of Japan and others tell you about things in the culture like tea, fans and such. The pictures are spread throughout the stories give a glimpse of the things that are happening in the stories as well as the traditional clothes.

These wonderful books are as always of the highest quality and well made. I love the books Tuttle Publishing puts out. They were the perfect introduction to a look at Japan. As I mentioned we will be exploring more about the country, language and culture in the next few weeks.

For some more on Japan check out:

Learning about Japan for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Week 1

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wow, April was a bit of a strange month with the stay at home order. It is hard to believe it is May. Our weather is finally starting to warm back up. April was the coldest April on record here and until this weekend our warmest day in 2020 was in January! May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Multicultural Kid Blogs has stopped doing its monthly heritage month series but I still wanted to share about it. So this year as I looked at my resources (aka my review shelf) I noticed a definite theme of Japan. So I am going to try to post on Mondays sharing different resources on Japan and Japanese culture. And it makes the most sense to begin with well the beginning. So our first book today is Kojiki: The Birth of Japan by Kazumi Wilds. 

Multicultural Monday: The Last Kappa of Old Japan By Sunny Seki Book Review and Craft

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of these products free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. They also sent me a copy to giveaway! As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.
Last week I reviewed a wonderful Japanese book, Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll for World Sight Day.  Tuttle Publishing sent me two copies of the book so I could offer one to giveaway and they included another book by the same author, Sunny Seki, called The Last Kappa of Old Japan for me to review. This is a wonderful book that introduces the popular Japanese legend of kappas. It is also a book I will pull out again for Earth Day. I actually enjoyed this one more than Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll and that is high praise since I really liked Yuko-Chan as well.

All About Japan By Willamarie Moore -- Book Review

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of these products free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Today I am going to review for you the wonderful book, All About Japan by Willamarie Moore. I absolutely love this series of books from Tuttle Publishing. They are packed full with so much information and they teach so much about the culture and life in the country. (I reviewed All About Indonesia by Linda Hibbs in July.) This book helps us center our exploration of Japan. It shares traditional stories, holidays, life in the city as well as the country (told by children who live there), recipes, crafts, dance, music, poetry, and so much more. 

With any book that has a recipe or craft in it, Hazel wants to try it, so we did. The book has three recipes in it and we tried two. I did not try to make Onigiri since I couldn't find the ingredients and I didn't really think Hazel would like them. We did try Okonomiyaki. It is described like a pancake with fillings but reminded me more of an omelet. I do not think I cut our fillings up enough and they fell apart on us when we flipped and removed them. Steve and I both thought they were all right and Hazel liked to eat the chicken filling instead. The pancake batter had cabbage in it which is why they are green.


The other recipe we tried was mochi cakes. We made them the day after we read "The Grateful Statues" in Japanese Children's Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade. The story is about a kind, poor couple. The old man does something kind for some statues and his kindness is rewarded with a large mochi cake. Therefore making mochi cake right afterward was perfect. Now are mochi cakes did not turn out pretty. We should have looked at pictures of them first, but Hazel was having fun making shapes out of them. We also could not find sweet rice flour or mochiko and used regular rice flour. They were not as sweet as they probably should have been. I like them though.

Mochi is often a treat for O-Shogatsu (New Year), so it seems appropriate to also show you our Nenga-jo Greeting card. Since 2015 is the year of the sheep, we used a sheep rubber stamp and Hazel wrote on the numbers. Nenga-jo are usually postcards that are sent the first three days of January.

 This book also discusses some history of Japan including the samurai warriors. They have instructions to make a samurai helmet out of newspaper. Hazel of course wanted one and then modeled it with a sword.

And what exploration of Japan would be complete without some origami? The book shares a wonderful song about frogs and gives the instructions to make an origami hopping frog.

Hazel loves making origami and wanted to make lots of frogs. You can find similar frog's instructions here.

She also loved that they could hop.
She made one of every color and then pulled out her zoo mat to put them in water. She then gathered more zoo animals to go with her frogs. I love crafts that lead to her creative play!

All About Japan is the perfect book for anyone who wants to learn more about Japan, its history, culture, etc. There are so many activities throughout it from learning about haikus to writing Kanji. We would have done more of the Kanji if we hadn't had the other books.  The other activity we did do was trying the Bon Dance. I however did not get any pictures since I was doing it with Hazel. I am also almost done with a kimono for her doll. She picked a fabric that reminds me of sakura (cherry blossoms), so I'll wait until it is finished and share it with our cherry exploration! Stay tuned!!

For more books and activities to learn about Japan check out:

Also check out some of our other reviews of Tuttle Publishing Books:

Our Japanese Tea Party -- Exploring Japan with Tea Parties Around the World

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me copy of this book free of charge for this review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

So last month our plan was to have a Japanese tea party for Tea Parties Around the World, but life interfered and our tea party happened in May instead, but this is perfect since it is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. So through April and into May we have been exploring Japan. Now Japan is known for its tea ceremony. It sounds so fancy and has an interesting history. To learn more about the tea ceremony we read Tea Ceremony by Shozo Sato. 

Interesting Facts about Samurai and Himeji Castle Jigsaw Puzzle Review


Disclosure: I was sent this puzzle in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I am going to share another 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. It is a beautiful photograph from Japan. It is the Samurai Castle and Cherry Blossoms 1,000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Exploring Origami -- Global Learning for Kids: Japan

Congratulations to Lauren L. on winning the Spring Into Science Giveaway!
Origami is something I have enjoyed for a long time and I have introduced it to Hazel many times: butterflies, various animals, exploring All About Japan. I have taken mathematics teacher courses on using origami in the classroom. It is especially great in geometry. Hazel has attempted origami a few times with me but she still struggles a bit with it. I think she needs to be a bit older to really get it, but for now we practice. 

History of Origami

Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. Paper making was introduced to Japan by the Chinese in the beginning of the seventh century. The Japanese found a way to make a thin paper called washi. Washi was used for official religious record keeping and Buddhist writings. In Shinto religious ceremonies offerings for the gods were wrapped in washi paper as well as other things. Eventually people began to fold the paper into animals and decorations for the gifts. During the Muromachi period, it became the rule that gifts had to be adorned with decorations. Butterfly ornaments are often used in wedding ceremonies. (Source) Origami was originally called orikata, but it was changed to origami in 1880. Origami comes from two Japanese words: oru meaning to fold and kami meaning paper. (Source)

Exploring Cherries and Japan

Today I am going to share our exploration of cherries and the end of our exploration of Japan. At Hazel's request we have been exploring different fruit. She pulls out her magnifying glass and fruit journal and colored pencils for our exploration. We look at the outside of the fruit and record our observations and then I cut them open and we look at the inside and record our observations. Then of course we taste the fruit. We did this with the cherry.

Learning some Japanese -- Book Reviews

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of these products free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

As I explained last Monday, we have begun to explore Japan with some fun books from Tuttle Publishing. They sent us some beautiful books and a set of flashcards. Today we are going to look at the ones that help teach a little of the Japanese language. Last week I reviewed My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Michelle Haney Brown. This book starts to introduce a small amount about the language and really helps teach something about the culture in Japan.

This week I am going to begin with Japanese For Kids Flash Cards by Timothy G. Stout.

In this box of flash cards, you get 64 double-sided flash cards, an audio CD, a wall chart and a learning guide. Each flash card has the Japanese word written in Japanese and then the pronunciation of the Japanese word (called Komaji) and a picture of what the word means on one side. On the other side is a table with the Japanese, Komaji and English then two sentences in all three as well as a black and white copy of the picture. The 64 cards are separated into word groups: Family, Colors, Numbers, Clothes, Animals, Food, Body Parts, and My Day. The learning guide suggests working with only one group at a time to make it more manageable. 

The audio CD begins with sixteen basic words and sayings that do not lend to pictures (for examples: yes, no, hello, goodbye) which are spoken slowly in Japanese and then at a regular speed and then in English and then has four songs in Japanese. Then it goes through each flash card saying the word in Japanese slowly, then at regular speed, then in English, then reading the sentences on the back side of the card in Japanese and English. I love that Hazel gets to hear the word how it is suppose to be pronounced and not just my interpretation of it. The learning guide also has games and activities to try in Japanese to help learn some of the words in a different way and the words to the four songs in Japanese and English. We decided to focus on numbers for awhile because the next book started with numbers as well.

Did you know there are three different writing systems in Japanese? There is Kanji which is the writing system that came to Japan from China in the 6th century; Hiragana is a script women in Japan developed 1,000 years ago; and Katakana is the set of characters to represent foreign words and names. Kanji has 2,500 different characters to know. Japanese children learn these starting in elementary school and continue through high school. Hiragana has 46 different characters and sounds. Japanese children learn all of the Hiragana characters in first grade. Katakana has 46 characters to match the 46 sounds of spoken Japanese and all are learned in first grade. Japanese children also learn Romaji which is the 26 letters of the English alphabet. (Source: All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and More by Williamare Moore--a review of this one coming soon!)

Our second book for today is My First Japanese Kanji Book: Learning Kanji the fun and easy way! by Anna Sato and Eriko Sato. This book helps children learn how to write Kanji. Usually Kanji is learned after Hiragana and Katakana are already mastered. We however began with it. This book has 36 lessons. Each lesson includes a poem in Japanese and English and then lessons on some of the words from the poem. The first lesson teaches you to write the words for one, two and three. 

Each character has a certain order to how it is to be written and it is said that teachers can tell when you do not do it in the correct order. Hazel and I began trying some out first with just regular colored pencils and I realized we were not getting the thickness of the lines correctly so I pulled out some calligraphy pens. Hazel loved this activity!! She wanted to do some more while I started making dinner.
Hazel's Kanji Trials

This book comes with an MP3 Audio CD. Each lesson is on the CD with the poem read in Japanese and English. Again I love that Hazel gets to hear the correct pronunciation. (Spoken languages have never been my strong point even if I was in Honors Spanish classes throughout middle and high schools.) I also showed her how to listen to the poems on her own if she wants to try some while I am busy. This really excited her. She actually asked if we could try some lessons every day. 

My Kanji Trials
The book provides a place to practice each character, but we decided to do them on separate paper. I often donate the books eventually to our public library or Hazel's school library, so I didn't want to mess them up and it gave us both a place to work without being in the others way. 

I have to say all three of these products are a wonderful introduction to the Japanese language. Each provides a different way of learning a bit about the culture and all are of the highest quality and are beautiful. 

For more books and activities to learn about Japan check out:
Also check out some of our other reviews of Tuttle Publishing Books:

Origami Toy Monsters & Once Upon a Time in Japan - Product Reviews and Giveaways!!

This notice contains affiliate links: Be sure to check out Little Passports' Blog for a fun and  Easy 4-step Halloween Craft.

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of this book and this kit free of charge for this review and are offering a kit to a lucky reader. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. They also sent me a copy to giveaway! As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Today I thought I would share two Japanese style things with you from Tuttle Publishing. With Halloween approaching Tuttle asked me to review and giveaway a copy of Origami Toy Monsters. This book and kit by Andrew Dewar and illustrated by Konstantin Vints has all the pieces you need to make some fun monsters. And they are not just any monsters but monsters that shake, rattle and move a bit. Some Hazel found a bit scary so we did not make those. Although the kit and book have origami in the title, it is not origami. The pieces are precut and punch out easily and some glue and toothpicks are needed for assembling (neither of which would be used in origami). 

Finishing Our Exploration of Japan --Global Learning for Kids

Only a couple more days to enter the Asian-Pacific Heritage Giveaway!

This month we joined a group of Multicultural Kid Blogs bloggers to begin a new project called Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will choose a country to explore. The blogs that chose to cohost will write a post about that country--books, music, crafts, lessons, recipe, etc. and share it with a link party. This month we have been exploring Japan. We started with an introduction to the country on Multicultural Kid Blogs which I wrote as well as a few explorations on our own: round-up of our past Japan explorations, discovering sushi, and exploring origami. Today I am going to share a few more resources we used to explore Japan. I am providing links to the various resources for your convenience. I do not receive anything for you using them. I borrowed all of these from our public library.

Discovering Sushi -- Global Learning for Kids: Japan

Disclosure: I was sent this playset to review free of charge from Melissa & Doug. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. I am including links to each item for your convenience but do not receive anything if you purchase them. They also sent one to me for the Asian Pacific American Blog Series and Giveaway!!
On Monday I shared that I am teaming up with Multicultural Kid Blogs to begin a new series called Global Learning for Kids. This month our focus is Japan. You can find my introduction to Japan on Multicultural Kid Blogs as well as the amazing Asian Pacific American Heritage Giveaway!! Our focus this week has been on sushi. Now I have only had sushi a couple of times in my life and as a non-fish eater, it has only been vegetarian. However we got this great Wooden Sushi Slicing Playset from Melissa & Doug, so I thought I should teach Hazel a bit about it. 

Japanese Crafts -- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Disclosure: We were sent these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This year I thought I would focus on Japanese crafts. I have written a few posts about Japan and Japanese culture over the years. If you want a general overview of the country and its culture you should check out my review here. When I looked at my shelf of books to review I saw a bit of a pattern and realized I had a collection of books about crafts in Japan. Part of what I love about these books is most of them also teach a bit about the culture.

A Look at Japan for Asian / Pacific Island Heritage Month

Disclosure: I was sent these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Multicultural Kid Blogs is hosting a blog hop today for this heritage month and I decided to focus mostly on Japan. I have a bunch of fun books to share with you to help focus on Japan and its culture. It is a mixture of coloring books, origami kits, a novel and an Asian cookbook. The first book I am going to share is another book in the Friendship Dolls Series from Candlewick Press. I reviewed the other two previously. Today's book is Dolls of Hope by Shirley Parenteau. 

Japanese Arts, Crafts and their Makers

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This month is Asian Pacific Heritage Month and to celebrate it we are looking at Japan all month long for Multicultural Mondays. Last week we started with two picture books including one on the creation myth in Japan. Today we are going to look at the crafts and craftsmen/women of Japan as well as a round-up of Japanese-inspired crafts and artists. To begin this post I am sharing a new book that is being released tomorrow (May 12, 2020). It is Craftland Japan by Uwe Röttgen and Katharina Zetti.

More Butterflies--Origami

Sharing Saturday is still open!! Please stop by to share your child-oriented crafts and activities or to be inspired by the amazing ideas already shared!

Since my post for Friday was on butterflies I thought I would show you some more butterflies I have made (and have given to Hazel to decorate though she seems to just like to play with them).  (The post on Friday included some children's books about butterflies.)

These are all made with a technique called origami. I love origami. I used it as a math teacher to teach different skills and have just always thought the Japanese art of paper folding was really neat. Some is easier than others and I will get into this more later. I am going to start by giving you a bit of the history of paper and origami. My sources for this history will be two books: The Simple Art of Japanese Papercrafts by Mari Ono and Origami Flowers by Soonboke Smith.
Asian and Polynesian peoples are known to have created ceremonial and utilitarian handicrafts by folding and wearing ti leaves, palm fronds, and pounded mulberry bark long before paper was ever invented. This was the origins of origami. The word origami is the Japanese word for paper folding. (Source: Origami Flowers)

Papermaking was invented in China at the beginning of the second century and was brought to Japan in the sixth century CE. The original paper brought to Japan was weak and the people demanded better paper. The Japanese discovered that a plant indigenous to Japan, gampi, was an ideal raw material for paper and they used a new method to produce it. This created washi paper. In the eighth century a new method was developed using hemp and kozo. This method is called the nagashizuki method. It allowed for unusally thin, strong, resistant paper to be made. With these developments the use of paper became more than just for official documents and transcription of religious texts because paper was more available.

The origin of origami is not completely known. Parts of it began to appear in different areas of Japan. When paper became more available, it became common for people to make cranes and boats and use them as decorations. The first origami book, The Secret of One Thousand Origami Cranes by Hiden Senbazuru Orikata was published in 1797.

In 1873 at the Vienna World Exposition the world was amazed to see all the things made out of paper by the Japanese. Until 1853 Japan was very isolated from the world. (Source: The Simple Art of Japanese Crafts)

I have to admit my nephew loves origami. While I was at the Cape last time he was visiting and we did quite a bit of origami together. I left my book there so he and my mother could continue to make some. I meant to take some pictures of the things we made, but alas I did not and left them there.
Some of my sources for my butterflies!

Now onto our butterflies. While at the Mass Audubon Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary Gift Shop, I found an origami butterfly kit (see picture on top of collage above). This was the start of my idea. I had several butterfly crafts to try and thought it would be neat to do some out of origami as well. Unfortunately I had some difficulties with the instructions. After several tries, I decided to practice with printer paper so I would not keep wasting my good origami paper (and the paper in the kit was double-sided to make more colorful butterflies).
After figuring this one out with the printer paper, I have not gone back and tried it with the origami paper. However, I loved the idea of being able to do make some with Hazel's drawings and paintings. This has not happened yet, but it will.
This purple butterfly was made from the instructions in the book, Making Origami Animals by Michael G. LaFosse (bottom left in collage above).
This pink butterfly includes a pipecleaner body and antennae. It was made using the instructions in the Holiday Origami book by Jill Smolinski (bottom right in collage above). It had the butterflies as an introduction to spring.
This dual color butterfly was among the easiest I made. The instructions came from Hansbirkeland.
The cabbage butterfly was among the next easiest for instructions found on line. These instructions came from the Origami Club.
The instructions for this beautiful butterfly are also on-line at Fabric Origami.
Although this one looks simple, it has more steps than most of the ones I made. With fifteen steps, it is definitely not simple. I found this one at Origami-fun.

My final butterfly had twenty-one steps! It is a butterfly by Akira Yoshizawa. There are several videos on-line for the Yoshizawa butterfly. I found the instructions at this blog.

If you would like even more of a challenge than twenty-one steps, you can check out these books. They had 50-100 steps for the butterflies, but they were complete with their six legs and all. I did not adventure that much to try them. Sorry!

I would also like to share with you this wonderful book, Butterflies for Kiri by Cathryn Falwell. It is a wonderful story of how a girl who loves to draw and paint receives a gift of an origami kit on which her aunt had made an origami butterfly in the wrapping. Kiri tries to make the butterfly and has difficulty, but with practice eventually is able to make it. It has instructions to make an origami butterfly in it. I know I followed them, but am not sure which one it is anymore. I may have misrepresented one of the ones above (if I did I'm guessing the purple one) and its instructions came from here.