Category Archives: Japan

Sayanara Japan

What a wonderful week we had learning about Japan, learning about Yurie, making beautiful Japanese art!  I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or me.

Last night, we finished our week with a delicious dinner, prepared by our special guest. When Yurie came in September she told me she didn’t know how to cook. Over the past few months, she has helped me make a few things and I’ve shown her some cooking tips, but I really think she was hiding her cooking talents all along. The meal was fabulous! What might have been my favorite part was Yurie’s newfound confidence. She was so pleased with herself that everything had turned out. She kept saying “I can’t believe”. It was awesome!  

The meal consisted of Nikujaga, a type of beef and potatoes, Japanese-style (soy, etc.), miso soup with a winter vegetable we found at Mitsuwa, white rice and I added to the meal some Japanese sweet potatoes with scallions and miso.  

We used some of our week’s origami creations as place cards, set out the chopsticks, prayed for Japan (and Haiti) and had a wonderful meal together.  

happy chef

肉じゃが Nikujaga

肉じゃが Nikujaga


 Quite shockingly, Tallinn kept saying how much he liked the “white stuff” (a.k.a. tofu) from the miso soup. He even asked Addie for hers! Then, he got a bit overloaded and said he didn’t like it anymore. Kids!  

Tallinn tasting tofu


 Since Yurie is in school and Japan doesn’t really have many traditional desserts, we decided to make it easy for her tonight and just bought Mochi Ice Cream. Green tea, mango and chocolate flavored mochi balls were passed around for all to enjoy. Yes, please!  



mango mochi

 And so concludes our week with Japan. Arigato Japan for teaching us to see beauty in simple things and a big arigato for letting us borrow Yurie. She is a gift! 




Japanese Fanfare

Let’s be honest, today’s craft was really more of an “adult” project, but the kids had fun with the end result. First, they chose a scrapbook page, then we (I) folded it in an accordian fashion. For Addie’s “girl” fan, we then bent the page in half, tied twine around the end, and attached a few beads, knotting the end. The boys’ fans were a little simpler and you just folded up the bottom and tied around the twine with the beads. Basically, the only thing the kids did was choose their paper and the beads tied to the end, but they had fun fanning themselves afterward. 

Tal did try to tie the twine a bit




finished girl fan


 As our week has come to a close, our art display is now full of beautiful Japanese treasures. Tonight we will conclude the week with a special dinner! 

Mitsuwa Field Trip

We are very fortunate to live about two miles away from a Japanese grocery store. We’ve taken each of our Japanese students here and today we decided to go with Yurie as we prepare for tomorrow night’s Japanese dinner. I have offered to help, and will be making the sweet potatoes, but Yurie really wants to make this dinner! She is amazing….and NO you can’t have her. (I actually had someone at church one day ask if she could live with them!) She got a few recipes from her mom and researched some others, so I’m curious to see what she’s going to make.




Tal had fun copying the little Japanese guy on the signs. 



Addie really wanted to buy Octopus legs, but we talked her out of it. 

delicious tentacles


the fun snack section


We ended in the snack section like we usually do, buying some fun soy crackers, a couple chewy candies. 

Green Tea Party

Fingerprint Blossoms 桜

Sometimes the best projects are the simplest! I have to admit, today’s art project was one of my favorites. I think it’s because it was easy for all of my kids to do and the end result captured the simple beauty of Japan so well. Along with that, it really didn’t cost anything as we had all the materials on hand and it was really difficult to mess up.

Since we didn’t have pink tempura paint, we mixed red and white and a little orange on  paper plates. On rectangular poster board cut-outs, I drew black tree trunks and branches with a sharpie. The kids simply dipped their fingers into the pink paint, then on the tree branches and voila!, instant cherry blossoms.

桜 (Cherry Blossom)

Even Cardiff was able to do this and I love how his turned out!  

Tallinn decided to write his name in the fingerprint blossom style.

They all are so beautiful and can’t wait for them to dry so we can hang them on our art display.

Origami Tuesday


Be still, and know that I am God; 

  I will be exalted among the  


I will be exalted in the earth. 

    Psalm 46:10 

This week’s verse is working out great as this stormy weather is forcing us to be still and see the awesome power of God! 

While bundled up inside, we said our verse a couple of times and read some fun facts about Japan in our Scholastic Atlas of the World book. Did you know Japan’s bullet train can go up to 186 mph? 

Next, we practiced counting to ten in Japanese while we watercolored some Japanese pictures; a samurai for Tallinn, geisha for Addie, some traditional Japanese homes and a picture of sushi for both. 







After practicing the numbers over and over, it looks like I might be the only one in our family who learned them. However, Tal can count up to san (5), which is a start!  We’ll keep working on them throughout the week. 

As Yurie came home from school,  Tal counted to five for her in Japanese, then she helped the kids with a little origami, again all in Japanese! 




I am loving watching the kids follow Yurie’s Japanese teaching and she is so sweet and patient with them. 

That’s all for today, but tomorrow promises to be lots of fun with a tea party, some cherry blossoms and more.

Land of the Rising Sun

It’s so exciting to be studying Japan this week with Yurie. She is a beautiful woman that has become part of our family and we are honored to learn a little more about her great nation.  

Being our geography day, we began as usual with the spinning of the globe to find Japan. Only today, I let Yurie do the talking…ALL in Japanese (Basically she’s saying, “good morning, today we’re going to learn about Japan….”)!  Here’s a fun video clip of her teaching.   

Apparently Tallinn knows a bit of Japanese! I love that he understood enough to find Japan on the globe, which he had learned before.  Next, they searched for the flag on our wall map….again all in Japanese.  

It was so much fun to see the kids engaged, even though they couldn’t understand.  

Yurie then helped the kids find Tokyo on our Japanese map coloring pages. On Tallinn’s map she wrote the word “Tokyo” in Japanese. Apparently there are three different ways to write words in Japanese and she wrote all three versions for us to see.  


For the flag, instead of coloring, we used a watercolor circle to paint the red Hinomaru (circle of the sun), onto pre-cut watercolor paper rectangles.  

Yurie wrote the kids’ names in Japanese on their flags and we hung them in our typical spot, using clothespin and twine.  



I made this easy art display awhile back, simply hanging twine from a drapery rod near our kitchen table for all to see. During Christmas time, we use it to display the cards we receive. I love it because it’s a great way to show the kids we’re excited about what they’re creating. Plus, our refrigerator is not magnetized!  

Because today was a rainy day, we continued on in our fun with Japan and made some hanging koi fish. Some friends joined us and, using pre-cut scrap paper and aluminum foil circles, the kids decorated these colorful fish. (We dipped q-tips in glue to avoid glue overload.) At the end, we stapled both sides together, attached some Asian ribbons I had to the bottom and hung them by yarn on another drapery rod.   


Decorating the Koi Fish


Finished Side of Koi


Car just liked sucking on the q-tip



the finished koi


Sayanara for today!


Over the past few years, we’ve hosted several international students from all over the world. Most have been from Japan, but we’ve had a few from Spain and Korea as well. Currently, we have a delightful young lady from Tokyo living with us, named Yurie. Yurie has been with us since September and will be here until April, and I asked her if she would mind teaching the kids some fun Japanese things. This week worked best with her schedule, so we’re jumping ahead to “J” and next week we’ll venture back to “B”.  



Our kids absolutely adore Yurie and we will all miss her terribly when she has to go home to Japan, but let’s not talk about that right now.