Sunday, September 25, 2011


The Japan Business Society of Detroit is hosting a Japan Festival on Sunday, October 2nd from 1-4pm at Novi High School (24062 Taft Road, Novi, MI). Hey, it's free of charge! The program will include: Cultural Performances, Workshops such as Tea Ceremony(茶道), Origami(折り紙), Calligraphy(書道), Traditional Games & Childrens’Attractions(縁日), and Japanese Food(日本食).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Do Your Friends Have Piano Teeth?

My daughter checked out one of the Dekoboko Friends (でこぼこフレンズ) books from her preschool's library. It's one of my favorite series(es?), and it's easy to read for a beginner. They have the craziest 12 characters, like the guy with piano teeth, an egg that gets really mad and cooks himself with the heat from his anger, and a chestnut who can't jump rope without tangling it on his huge nose.

If you don't happen to have a Japanese school to send your child to, try finding easy Japanese-language books such as this for reading with your child to expose them to more Japanese. Besides Dekoboko Friends, my suggestions include Anpanman (あんぱんまん is a character made out of pastry) and Nontan (ノンタン) is a selfish cat who reluctantly learns to share, etc).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Respect for the Aged Day

In honor of "Respect for the Aged Day" (Sep 19 in Japan), my daughter's preschool is taking the kids to the post office to mail letters to their grandparents. They get to go up to the counter and buy a stamp and everything! That means at our house we are currently writing letters to her five grandparents, 2 grandmas (obaasan), 1 grandpa (ojiisan), and 2 great grandmas (hiiobaasan). I take dictation and my four-year-old daughter tells me what she wants to write. Here is a sample of what she wrote: "Dear Grandpa, I love you, and have a wonderful day. I love you very much. We went on an airplane. Love, Sheradyn." Have you written to your grandparents lately? Above is a picture of an American woman's gift to her 105-year-old grandmother. Wow!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sit Like a Rice Ball

"Mommy, you're supposed to do おにぎりすわり when sensei reads a book." This is what my daughter told me yesterday when she was pretending to be my sensei. The "suwari" means sit, and onigiri means ... onigiri. She showed me, and you're supposed to bend your knees so they make a triangle, like a typical onigiri shape. Cute! But my legs are pretty long, so it's a little uncomfortable. Oh well.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Finish your Hello Kitty obento!

"Mommy, don't put so many edamame in my obento," my daughter has told me. "And don't put corn in it." What a micro-manager a four-year-old can be! Geez, can't she just leave it there if she doesn't want to eat it? Well, I found out that she can't.

A while back, I went to pick up my daughter early from preschool because she had a slight fever. When I arrived, I panicked a little because I could hear a faint cry from down the hallway. Was she so sick she was crying? Oh no! I was relieved to go in the room and see a DIFFERENT kid crying and my daughter perfectly ok, quietly laying down. So what was the crying about?

Two little boys had not finished their obento lunches and the teacher was cheerfully encouraging them to eat so they could go outside and play, and it was one of those boys who was quietly sobbing. Meanwhile, the rest of the class was already outside playing. So they sat, and sat, and whined, and ate tiny bites. But lo and behold, they did finish eventually! This whole school year my daughter has been coming home with completely eaten obentos, and I had been patting myself on the back thinking I'm such a great mom and culinary genius. But now I find out the teachers actually train the students to finish their lunches. Some days I am positive I gave her too much food, and now I feel so bad! But I'm so glad to know this because I can continue to pack healthy food for my daughter knowing it will never go to waste.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Daruma?

ゆきあそび Yuki asobi means ... playing in the snow! The kids are doing lots of this lately, and I have to pack a special bag every week with snow gear just in case they go outside to play in the white stuff. And ゆきだるま yuki daruma means ... a snowman! ゆきだるまを つくりましょう! Let's make a snowman! I wondered why they just don't say "yuki hito" or something like that to mean snowman in Japanese. It's because the "daruma", that little round guy that gives you good luck on tests and stuff, is a similar shape to a ball of snow, so it made more sense to say yukidaruma. In Japan, if there is a hat it is usually a bucket or something, since there is no history of wearing "silk top hats" in Japan.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Origami starts young (and simply)

It's no crane (see instructions below), but this origami Christmas tree, which consists of one careful fold, is actually pretty tricky for these three years olds! I am impressed that Japanese preschools start kids doing origami this early in life!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Udon - yummy!

This month, I'm quite jealous. The preschoolers will be donning their aprons and cooking yummy Japanese udon at school. One goal for Japanese preschools is to help kids "learn to enjoy a variety of foods," so they cook about twice a month. Udon is popular in Japan in the winter because it is hot and "warms you to the core." It's made of fat wheat noodles and a fish stock soup, then you top it with things like fish cake (the pink swirly things), seaweed, and fried tofu. Or you can top it with tempura - my favorite! To eat it effectively with chopsticks, get your mouth close-ish to the bowl, grab some noodles with your chopsticks, and put them in your mouth, slurping as you go. You'll have the udon hanging from your mouth as you slurp, which is totally correct. My grandma would have my hide if I slurped and had stuff hanging out of my mouth during dinner, but if it's udon it's OK!! Yay!!