Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Haunted House

Happy Halloween! The haunted house at the school's Halloween party made me laugh because there were Japanese gravestones in it. Japanese gravestones are totally different than typical American ones. For one thing, there's Japanese kanji characters on them, written vertically. Entire families are buried under one headstone after being cremated. Then a few feet away in each direction are other families' headstones. They're very close together, due to Japan's small amount of usable land. Interestingly, Japanese don't associate cemeteries with being scary or spooky, just peaceful.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Obentou

This week in Japanese preschool, I'm trying to come up with a cute obento for her lunch on Halloween. For preschool, Japanese moms ALWAYS pack a nutritious and cute obento (packed lunch) for their kiddies, as well as for anyone else who wants one (teenagers, husband, etc). They are supposed to be five colors (aka, kiiro, midori, kuro, shiro) and heavy on the rice. Super moms make きゃらべんとう (character bento) with cutouts and shapes to resemble cute characters from TV anime. Try making your own cute Halloween obento this week and put a sticker on it saying what time you will eat it in Japanese to add to your anticipation (いちじに おべんとうを たべます!)
> > >

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Akimatsuri - Fall Festival

This week in Japanese Preschool, my daughter enjoyed the あきまつり "akimatsuri", or Fall Festival. Almost every child had a parent in attendance, too. Lots of kids wore ゆかた "yukata" (summer cotton kimono) or はっぴ "happi" (little festival coat) with headbands. To start out the festivities, the children carried a cute, preschool-y おみこし "omikoshi" (explanation) through the hallways, shouting "wasshoi, wasshoi" (heave-ho, heave-ho). Here is a typical picture (not mine) of the activity below:


Then, they did an おどり "odori" (dance) to some crazy festival music, holding hands in a big circle. Finally, they went around the gym to several set up game stations, like fishing with a magnet, bowling, putting an acorn through a maze, catching waterballoons with a paperclip, making masks, etc. Oh yeah, and there was yummy festival food! If you have an Anime Club or Japan Club at your school, consider holding a "Natsu Matsuri" (Summer Festival) at the end of the school year to celebrate your club. Keep it simple your first time, though. You can do it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Switch to Winter

It's October, time for schoolkids in Japan to switch to their winter uniforms. Preschool kids don't have uniforms, so our Japanese preschool just told us to switch to pants and long sleeves. "But still dress lightly," they said, so the kids can (抵抗力 ていこうりょくを つけ) "build up their tolerance" for cold weather. Wow! Unlike the "bundle up" message from American teachers, Japanese teachers tell parents NOT to bundle up kids too much. The thinking is that they will be more able to tolerate the cold and illnesses if they are "robust." Sugoi ne!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chat Circle

I went to my first Chat Circle (おしゃべり さあくる) for parents (ok, for moms) at my daughter's preschool. The other moms were happy to speak to me in Japanese, so it was great practice for me. It made sitting in those tiny kindergarten chairs worthwhile. A good way to start a one-on-one conversation with someone is to act like you forgot their name (everyone introduced themselves at the beginning) and ask their name (すみません、おなまえは?). If they have a child with them, tell them their child is cute (かわいい ですね) and ask them how old their child is (なんさい ですか). You can use even very basic Japanese in daily life situations. As you get more advanced, you can say more interesting things, of course. So if you get the chance to, please use your Japanese with a native speaker! If you can't, then stop your friend in the hallway and use it on them. Good luck!