Like I said in my last post, I started doing Around the World themed parties for the nephew and niece last summer as a way to spark their curiosity in travel and different cultures. Every month I list a handful of different countries and let them pick which one they want to explore next. Then I hop on Pinterest and Google to find some kid-friendly activities to explore that country’s history and culture. A few weeks ago my nephew chose Japan for our next get together, and here are some of the ideas I came up with.
Coffee Filter Japanese Fans
Source: Busy Bee Kids Crafts
Fans were a staple part of traditional Japanese dress. There are two types of traditional fans: the ogi or folding fan and the uchiwa or screen fans. Besides the obvious use, fans were also used in religious ceremonies, dances, and theatre. Most are beautifully painted with flowers, plants, and animals that are steeped with symbolism. Even the colors used were symbolic.
This craft was very simple to make! My nephew loved it so much he made three different fans. After you’re dong making your fans, head over to YouTube to find videos of traditional Japanese fan dances.
Bubble Wrap Cherry Blossom Print
Inspiration: Glued to My Crafts
Cherry blossom trees are known as sakura in Japanese, and cherry blossoms are Japan’s national flower. In Japan, cherry blossoms are a symbol of simplicity, spring, innocence, and hope. The short lifespan of the flower also symbolizes that life is short and therefore should be lived to its fullest. Hanami is the annual tradition of celebrating and enjoying the cherry blossoms. Each year families and friends will hold picnics and parties in public parks to celebrate the cherry blossom season.
If you kids love playing with bubble wrap as much as my niece and nephew do, this crafts is sure to be a hit!
Origami is the art of paper folding that was introduced to Japan from China in the 6th century when Buddhist monks brought paper to Japan. Back then paper was so rare that origami was only used for religious ceremonies or as a pastime for the rich.
You can find origami tutorials all over the internet. One of the most popular designs is the tsuru or crane. Popularized by the story Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, the crane has become a symbol of peace. Here are some great resources for origami tutorials:
- 6 Origami projects to Try With Kids (By Bits of Everything)
- Origami Videos (By Tavin’s Origami Instructions)
- Origami Jumping Frog (By It’s Always Autumn)
Koinobori (Japanese Flying Carp)
Source: Squirrelly Minds
Koinobori are carp-shaped wind socks that are flown in Japan to celebrate Children’s Day. In Japan, carp symbolize courage and strength. On children’s Day, families will raise carp-shaped flags, with a carp for the father, one for the mother, and one carp for each child. It is a day to respect children’s personalities and celebrate their happiness.
This crafts was a bit more difficult than the others, but it was by far my niece and nephew’s favorite!
Typically I find a recipe for some treat or dessert to make, but I didn’t have enough time to make one this time. Plus my local Smith’s grocery store had some great Japanese treats that I wanted to try. I put all of their treats in a brown paper bag that I decorated with doodles of candy and sprinkles. I used a Japanese Name Translator to write their names and the word for “sweets” in Japanese characters. Surprisingly my niece and nephew seemed to love all of them. The strawberry Ramune and chocolate-filled panda cookies were especially popular.
It wouldn’t be a Japan-themed party without some anime. The anime we watched was Kiki’s Delivery Service. My nephew loves magic, so this was the perfect anime for him. Other anime that I saw recommended for kids include My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. All of these movies are available on DVD from Netflix.
We didn’t end up having much time to play games, but I found a site called Mixed Juichu which has some great ideas. Some of my favorites were color tag and the bean carrying game.
Pretend Passport Japan Stamp
Those are just a handful of things that you can do for a Japan themed party. In fact, there were so many ideas on Pinterest that I think I might have to do another Japan party in the future. Until then, arigato and sayonara.