Japanese for Children

You know Japan has a very unique culture and that also applies to Valentine’s Day ( バレンタイン) as well.

First of all, unlike many other countries most people buy chocolate as a gift instead of all other possible gifts (e.g. perfume, jewelry, etc.) What’s more usually only girls buy a gift and boys just accept the gifts. It’s all even steven when boys buy a gift in return and that is 1 month after the Valentines day  ( バレンタイン)  that is March 14th which is also called the White Day (ホワイトデー, Howaito Dei).

Just as you might think this is a bit different, wait for this: girls also buy a pack of chocolate for other girls. Yes, whether its because they might feel shy to present chocolate to a boy they are interested in or just think there’s not someone special around them, most girls in Japan buy a valentines day gift (chocolate) on February 14th ( バレンタイン) to not to miss the opportunity of enjoying this day. Watch this Meiji (the largest choclate maker in Japan) to get the idea.




One day an old bamboo cutter found a beautiful baby girl in a bamboo plant. He took her home and took vary good care of her. When she grew up to be a gorgeous young woman, the empreror of Japan saw her and fell in love with her. Kaguyahime eventually tells the bamboo cutter that she actually came from the moon and that she doesn’t belong to this world. Kaguyahime returns to the moon with the help from moon people.


Urashima taro is the story of a fisherman who saves the life a sea turtle. A few days later he is approached by a giant sea turtle in the sea who tells him that the turtle he saved was actually the daughter of the Sea King and the king wants to thank him in his palace under the deep sea called Ryugu-Jo.

He meets with the king and his beautiful daughter (who was the turtle he saved). Urashima is so much impressed with the palace but wants to go back to his village after 3 days as he is concerned about his mom. The princes (otohime) gives him a box as a gift but tells him not to open it ever. Once, Urashima Taro is back in his village he notices that 300 years past and everything has changed. Without knowing what to do he ends up opening the box but suddenly he feels so old, wrinkles appear on his face and his beard grows for meters. The princess appears and says, you shouldn’t have opened the box; your old age was in the box… Urashima taro story teaches children the importance of being patient


Kintarou きんたろう。 Kintarou means golden boy. It is the story of a little boy who wore nothing a small bib that said Gold (きん、金)on it. He was left in the Mount Ashigara by a witch named Yama-Uba. He was a very strong boy since early childhood.

After he grew up, he got the name Kintoki and was chosen as the personal guard of Yorimitsu Samurai in Kyoto. Kintoki mastered martial arts and became one of the most famous fighters in the region.



Every year Japanese people celebrate the Tanabata Festival during the summer. The story behind Tanabata is the romantic meeting of 2 stars. There are one female star, Orihime, and one male star Hikoboshi.  They only get to meet once a year because they are seperated by the Milky Way. But when they meet, between them there are many stars lined up in a row which look like a river to the human eye. The Japanese believe this happens every 7th day of the 7th month (according to the lunar calendar) and have been celebrating Tanabata festival for a long time.

The most famous Tanabata festival is Sendai Tanabata Festival. This year it started on July 6th and it had a special meaning since it was the first Tanabata festival after the Great Tohoku Earthquake. As Sendai is the closest big city to the Earthquake epicenter, the festival was celebrated in a smaller scale compared with the past years. The downtown Sendai was decorated with 3000 bamboos with colorful streamers. 80,000 school kids prepared wings to be put on the ornaments. There was abig sign that had a meaning close to “Let’s return to Smile (or Put a smile on your face).” This year, it is expected that 1,750,000 will visit the city for the festival, down 600,000 from the last year before the quake.

Children’s TV programming in Japan is heavily influenced by the government owned TV channel NHK which puts emphasis on kids shows and children’s comedy programs.

Here’s a brief list of the most popular kids shows in Japanese:

ポンキッキーズ 、Ponki Kids.  

This is one of the most popular TV shows in Japan broadcasted on Fuji TV.

おかさんといっしよ, With my mother

This kids show is for kids 2-4 and on NHK. Tons of animations and dancing puppets. Edutainment format.

ウルトラマン, Ultraman
Fight between Ultraman (red/silver costume) and evil characters. Ultraman most of the time ends up winning the fight.

えいごであそぼ, Let’s Have Fun Studying English

An NHK program produced to increase the motivation of Japanese kids to learn English. Motchi, Jenny and Eric go to different places and interact with children.

In this video ANPANMAN goes to a foreign country where he has to speak in English


ポケモンスマッシュ!,Pokemon Smash

A Tokyo TV show that features guests, comedians and wrestlers entertain children. Kids are asked questions about Pokemon characters.


consonants in Japanese

Here are the voiced and unvoiced consonants in japanese and a big png jpeg file.

ka – ga が sa – za ざ ta – da だ ha – ba ば – pa ぱ
ki – gi ぎ shi – ji (zi) じ hi – bi び – pi ぴ
ku – gu ぐ su – zu ず tsu – zu づ fu – bu ぶ – pu ぷ
ke – ge げ se – ze ぜ te – de で he – be べ – pe ぺ
ko – go ご so – zo ぞ to – do ど ho – bo ボ – po ぽ
Source: John Power, 2008

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