I have a great appreciation for the Japanese culture. Some of my earliest concrete memories were from my childhood in Okinawa. As I mentioned last week, Japan has always been a part of my life. I’m glad to take the time to learn about Japan.
For me – kids learning about Japan is a natural fit. It’s relatable. Maybe it’s because my childhood was filled with Japanese imagery. Or perhaps it’s just true. Either way, I found a few activities that kids will enjoy if they’ve been to Japan, plan to go to Japan, or just want to learn more.
Kid-friendly activities to learn about Japan
Make a fan and go to a garden
The Crafty Classroom offers a free downloadable fan printable. Use watercolors to add in the design, cut out, and attach to a popsicle stick. Paper fans were part of every outdoor activity I went to growing up. One of my favorites was at the EXPO, now known as Ocean Expo Park. Perhaps you can take your new fan to a local garden and imagine you’re in Japan.
Learn about the Kyoto Shrine
When I planned study abroad programs one of the first programs I planned in its entirety was an introduction summer program to Japan. The trip included a few days in Kyoto. One of the hardest parts was narrowing down the activities the students would do. So, I kind of laughed when I found this printable maze for a Kyoto Shrine.
Discover Cherry Blossoms close to home
Cherry Blossoms, or Sakura, inspire the Japanese spirit. Sakura festivals were among my favorite childhood memories. I love seeing the pink flowers in the photos from the National Cherry Blossom Festival held annually in Washington DC. However, one thing that surprised me, was finding cherry blossoms flowering in the middle of April in Germany one year. The street was filled with them. After a small amount of research I discovered that the plants were given as gifts from the Japanese Embassy. I’ve since learned that there are many areas around the world that have cherry blossoms. And most of those were a gift from a Japanese business, government entity, or citizen. See if you can find a place near home.
Fold paper with the Japanese tradition of Origami
I love Origami. It is the perfect paper craft. Watching expert folders is mesmerizing. If I’m in a plane with a little more turbulence than I prefer, it’s the only activity that calms me. I first learned Origami when I was 7 and I still remember how to fold some of those products without looking at instructions. When I got married, we used the origami crane as decoration during our reception. A double crane folded from a single sheet of origami paper was the topper on our cake. Have your kids learn the fine art of Origami and try the crane here.Fun activities and book recommendations for kids who want to learn about Japan. Click To Tweet
Kids travel books set in Japan
While I’ll only highlight a few below, the Kids Travel Book directory is constantly updated with more titles. Let me know if there’s any more you think I should add.
The fables, fairy tales, and folktales from Japan are among my favorite stories I’ve heard. There’s no way I could narrow it down, so here’s a few to whet your appetite. Check our directory for even more favorites.
Japanese Celebrations by Betty Reynolds
It’s easy to find a crafty way to approach Japanese Celebrations. This book helps with descriptions, illustrations, and activities. Mark it on your calendar and celebrate when the date approaches.
T is for Tokyo by Irene Akio
Tokyo is exciting. Use all your senses to learn more about this city through a father’s tale of his childhood as told to his daughter.
Tokyo Friends by Betty Reynolds
This is a great introduction book for kids just learning about Japan for the first time. It discusses some major similarities between the Japanese and American cultures. I’ll discuss it in more detail next week with a book review.
More links about Japan
If reading about Japan has you wanting to find your own books to read, I have some suggestions. My husband fell in love with Japan after reading James Clavell’s Shogun. I thought, maybe, it was just him. But, recently I was listening to a podcast that had Edward Norton as a guest. He spent time in Japan in his youth and his reason for loving the country? Shogun. So, maybe there’s something to this!
Additionally, the kid’s subscription box service Little Passports offers a box on Japan. Check out their post.
**Please note: The links above are affiliate links.
Thanks for checking out these books. Come back in a few days to see a selection of Kids’ Travel Books set in Okinawa.