March 28, 2011

International Week: Japan

Hello friends, did you have a fantastic weekend? We were busy getting ready for Japan Week! Japan is Julia’s favorite foreign country. I am so saddened by the situation in Japan right now, but we decided that we could show our support by discussing all of our favorite Japanese books, toys and treats.

Julia and I went to Paper-Source to find beautiful paper to make our annual Spring Japanese Lanterns. Sooooooo many gorgeous choices!

You can find Japanese paper at Right now 10% of their Japanese paper sales will be donated to relief efforts. We’ll show you the lanterns later in the week!

Julia is crazed for these little Japanese eraser toys; most toy stores and various places like Paper-Source seem to carry them. She doesn’t use them as erasers, she uses them as actual toys in pretend play or in her dollhouse.

We’ve been reading a darling book (renewed twice from the library!) by Rosemary Wells (of Max & Ruby fame), called Yoko’s Paper Cranes.

“This is a story about making paper cranes and letting them fly with your heart to those you love, even if they are thousands of miles away.”--from Yoko’s Paper Cranes

Inside the book are instructions on how to fold a paper crane, as well as pages of incredible art and patterns seen on traditional origami paper.

This sweet story describes how Yoko, after moving away from Japan to the United States, continues the traditions taught to her by her Obaasan (grandmother) and Ojiisan (grandfather). Unable to be in Japan for her grandmother’s birthday, Yoko makes her own paper cranes and sends them as a present and a reminder of her love for her grandparents.

We read a lot from Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories, compiled by Florence Sakade. I’ve read bits and pieces of this book to Julia since she was one. She didn’t understand a word, but loved the pictures. Now she loves the stories as well! This book can easily span from age 3-4 to age 8-9.

Our favorites stories are Peach Boy, Little One Inch, and The Long-Nosed Goblins.

This book, which has since been reissued, is one of mine that I’ve had since I was 9 years old:

Definitely for older kids, I would say ages 9 or 10+. These aren’t sweet and fuzzy stories, there are quite a few stories that have a lot of man-eating, teeth-gnashing ogres and the language and vocab is pretty sophisticated. This was one of my very favorite books from my childhood, teeth-gnashing and all!

Happy International Reading!


  1. "Issunboshi" by Robert B. Goodman is a fave of mine. Also, "The Magic Paintbrush"

  2. Awesome!! I love Laurence Yep!! I'll have to check out "Issunboshi".