Category Archives: EDUCATION

10 Books About Japan That Expat Parents Should Read To Their Kids

Boy Who Loves Reading

Whether children are adjusting to their new cultural home, diving deep into their third culture or simply interested in learning more about their surroundings, books are ideal tools to help them on their journey.

For children transitioning to life in Japan, being able to enjoy books can be a great support

Not only do reading interactions encourage children to inquire, grow through understanding, and be empathetic, they are also a fun, positive and educational experience.

Recommended reading for international children in Japan

“For children transitioning to life in Japan, being able to enjoy books can be a great support,” according to Rita Kar, the librarian of Summerhill International school.

“When families move to Japan, the children are making a big transition in language and culture. Familiar books can be a great source of comfort to children when they see them in their new unfamiliar surroundings,” says Rita.

Summerhill Librarian Rita Kar

Rita reading to pupils in the Summerhill International school library.

To create this feeling at home, she suggests creating a fun, inviting reading space, such as a tent or nook with cushions and blankets, which features some of the children’s favorite books, noting that “they will be confident in such settings where books are a familiar thing.”

Once some familiarity is established, introducing books that provide children with the background or information to help them understand their new world in Japan can bring greater fun, authenticity, and a sense of involvement when out shopping, dining or experiencing cultural events. Children might point out things they have seen in books or, while reading books, have a eureka moment of understanding.

According to Rita, literature is a great way to support your adventures in your host country. She continues on to …continue reading


How to Enjoy Summer Festivals in Japan

Summer in Japan is a season bursting with matsuri celebrations, especially at night when the air cools down. Most of the festivals in the summertime are held outdoors, for the favorable weather allows visitors to enjoy the celebrations both during the day and the nighttime. Summer festivals are characterized by city-wide street dances, summer version of Kimono called Yukata (浴衣: ゆかた), and impressive fireworks displays. Here’s how you can enjoy natsu matsuri (夏祭り, summer festivals) in Japan!

Wear a Yukata

Yukata (浴衣) are the summer version of kimono, a traditional piece of Japanese clothing. It is quite common for people to come to summer festivals wearing colorful yukata. The robe is usually made of cotton or synthetic fabric, and is worn wrapped around the body and fastened with a sash called an obi. The colorful, lightweight fabrics are perfect for the summer festival atmosphere!

Enjoy Yatai Stalls & Street Food

Almost all matsuri will have street food and entertainment in the form of colorful pop-up stalls that line the streets leading up to the main festival venue. These festival stalls come in a variety of types and colors, as well as a variety of names, including: yatai (屋台), demise (出店), or roten (露店).

The pop-up stalls at Japanese festivals offer a wide selection of famous Japanese street foods, such as Takoyaki (fried octopus balls), yakitori (焼鳥, skewered grilled chicken), and Yaki soba (焼きそば, fried noodles). Popular desserts include candy apples, chocolate-dipped banana, and kakigori (かき氷, sweet-flavored shaved ice).

yatai choco banana

In addition, many of the stalls offer simple carnival games that are loved by people of all ages! People typically play shateki(射的, gun shooting for small prizes), wanage (わなげ, ring toss), or various sukui (すくい) games where they try to scoop toys, balls, and even goldfish out of water …continue reading


5 must know difficult Japanese words

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” – Unknown

Photo from Pixabay

The other day, I came across this quote above, and thought I would share with you all. This applies to all sorts of things we deal with everyday. Your work, study, and social life, etc. and obviously, learning a foreign language has the same principle. Once you are comfortable with certain sets of vocabulary and expressions, do you catch yourself repeating the same all words and expression in certain situations? Feeling comfortable in any situation is great but if you want to improve, you definitely need to try to step out of your comfort zone. It is so easy to say, but so hard to do.

In today’s lesson, I would like to introduce you to the following set of vocabulary that might not sound too familiar but yet good to keep in your vocabulary list.:)

Shotaimen (しょたいめん,初対面) = Meeting someone for the first time

Kanojo towa shotaimen desu.

=>I just met her for the first time.

かのじょとは,しょたいめん です。(彼女とは 初対面 です。)

Uwanosora (うわのそら) = absent-minded

Karewa nani o ittemo uwano sora da.

=> It doesn’t matter what you tell him, his mind is somewhere else.

かれは なにをいっても うわのそらだ。 (彼は 何を言っても うわのそらだ。)

Gaiken (がいけん,外見)= Appearance

Gaiken dakede hito o handan shinaide.

=> Don’t judge anyone by appearance.

がいけんだけで,ひとを はんだんしないで。(外見だけで 人を 判断 しないで。)

Kokoro gakeru (こころがける,心掛ける)= keep in mind

Itsumo nihongo de hanasuyō ni kokoro gaketene.

=>Please keep in mind to speak in Japanese at all times.

いつも にほんごで はなすように こころがけてね。(いつも 日本語で 話すように 心掛けてね。)

Magirawashi (まぎらわしい,紛らわしい)=misleading, ambiguous, hard to tell the difference

The twin brothers look so much alike, and it’s hard to tell one from the other.

==> Ano futago no kyudai wa sugoku yoku niteite, docchi ga docchi ka magirawashi.

あの ふたごの きょうだいは すごく よくにていて,どっちが どっちか まぎらわしい。

(あの 双子の兄弟は すごく よく似ていて,どっちが どっちか 紛らわしい。)

So, I hope you challenge yourself today by learning one extra new word/expression!

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For more language learning …continue reading


What do Japanese Apartment Layout Terms Mean?

Source: Gaijin Pot

One of the challenges of searching for property in Japan is the unique terminology used to define the size, space, and conditions of a place. Look on GaijinPot’s apartment listings for example and you’ll notice that most places are listed as “number + letters” based on what kind of rooms there are in addition to having information about the overall size.

Things can get pretty cryptic so it’s a good idea to know what the abbreviations mean when you start looking; the list below covers some of the most common and makes an excellent list of underhand Scrabble words (if you’re counting acronyms).

Japanese Room Layouts

L, D and K meaning

Stands for “Living,” “Kitchen” and “Dining” which makes up the heart of a Japanese apartment and will usually be an open-plan area of all of these combined. You’ll rarely find separate rooms with doors between your living/dining rooms and kitchen. Most apartments (and even houses) are built around a central living area that encompasses where you cook, eat and play—known as the LDK.

1LDK layout

1LDK apartment layout example.

The number that comes before the acronym means the number of rooms separate from the LDK (basically the number of bedrooms). So a 1LDK would mean an apartment that has a living, dining and kitchen area with one bedroom as well as a separate toilet/bathroom. A 2LDK would mean that there are two bedrooms plus the living dining, kitchen part, a 3LDK would indicate three bedrooms and so on. Usually, the kitchen is part-separated from the living and dining area by a breakfast bar, wall divide or area of laminate or vinyl flooring.

1K or 1DK layout

1DK apartment layout example.
1K …continue reading


Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you’re single

Source: Gaijin Pot
Table for One: How to survive Christmas in Japan if you're single

Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year. As the songs say, it is a time for joy, a time for family, a time for presents and various other forms of merriment.
In Japan however, Christmas is very much about families and in particular couples.

Perhaps even more so than Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the time of year in Japan when couples fully express their love for each other, usually in the form of elaborate, extravagant dinners and over the top gifts.

However, for some, it can be a very depressing time. If you’re single, Christmas can be a pretty depressing time. It can often seem like you are the only man or woman in the entire universe who doesn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

And even for those of us lucky enough to be in a relationship, Christmas can often be a solitary experience in Japan, as our Japanese partner, and sometimes even us too, are forced to work on Christmas Day, since Christmas is not a recognized holiday here.

It would be very easy to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on the whole thing, just say “Bah! Humbug!” and try to forget Christmas even exists. It doesn’t have to …continue reading