We were lucky to have our grandparents visiting us all last week.  It corresponded perfectly with our country study of Japan.  Grandpa and Grandma have both been there (Grandma’s been there LOTS of time and also worked with a student exchange from there and hosted many Japanese students too!)  They told us all about what Japan is like.

Cherry Blossoms of Japan. By Tawashi2006Tawashi2006 (Tawashi2006投稿者Tawashi2006撮影) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.1 jp (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.1/jp/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

 Fabulous Facts

  • Japan is a mountainous island country.  There are actually over 6000 islands that comprise it!  Click right here to read about the Japanese mountains and some really cool Japanese monkeys who love hot tubs!
  • When you enter a home you take off your shoes and put on slippers.  There are special slippers that you wear when you go into the bathroom.
  • They have lots of crazy kinds of toilets.  One of them has a faucet above it.  When you flush the clean water pours from a faucet above the toilet right into the flushing toilet.  That way you can wash your hands with the same water that then flushes your toilet.
  • Kids compete to get into the best preschools, which then allows them to get into the best schools, which then allows them to get the best jobs.  This fate is determined VERY young.
  • Students usually leave their homes to go to school.  The students have to work hard at the schools–not just academically; they are also responsible for cleaning the schools top to bottom from the time they are tiny.
  • The atomic bombs that were dropped by the United States during World War II were devastating for generations to come.  They caused not only massive death, but also ongoing health problems, deformities, and birth defects.
  • They love to hide things inside of things.  Once grandma ate a donut and discovered beans inside as the filling…yuck!

Explorations About Japan

We also created Japanese flags and learned about the meaning of the flag.

We learned some Japanese words and even wrote some.  We also learned the basic vowels and how to pronounce them.

We made a Japanese meal, Okonomiyaki, and some Japanese noodles.  We ate with chopsticks.  We even set up a small table (we used our coffee table) and the kids sat on pillows on the floor to eat.

We played a traditional Japanese flat marble game.




Finally, we’re reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a sad story about a little girl who suffered from leukemia due to the atomic bombs.  She believed in the ancient symbol of the crane as hope and decided that she would surely live if she could just fold 1000 paper cranes.  I highly recommend this book.  I read it when I was young and it made an impact on me.  My kids cried as we read it together, and I saw the same impact on them.

Clicking on the book will take you to this book’s listing on Amazon (affiliate link).  It is a sad story that will leave you changed.

Of course, we also did lots of origami to go along with the book.  I’m not sure if we actually folded 1,000 paper cranes or not during our country study of Japan, but it sure feels like we have 1,000 origami creatures in this house.

Here is how to fold an origami paper crane

More From Layers of Learning

You can get a whole Japan country study in Unit 3-17.  It’s packed with ideas for learning about Japan.

Layers of Learning Unit 3-17

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