BOOK PILE: Children Books About Japan

I’m slowly moving my stuff from other two blogs to this new place of ours. We love to learn about life in different countries and this makes up a considerable part of our homeschooling adventure.

Today’s post will be a book list for JAPAN, the first country we learned about two years ago (and from then on we continue to learn about Japan, little by little) . Here are the books we found to be most interesting and informative:

books Japan

This post may contain links to the sites I’m affiliated with. Should you choose to make a purchase following a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Life in Japan, Traditions and Culture:

My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe

(Published in 2009 by Kane/Miller Book Publishers), the book told from the point of view of a Japanese girl, Yuko talks about Japanese home, a day in school and typical holidays.

The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb Iijima, Paige Billin-Frye

(Published in 2002 by Albert Whitman & Company) Is a book about a Japanese-American boy who arrives to live in Japan with his parents. It explores differences about a school day in Japan and USA

Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki, Stephane Jorisch (Illustrator)

(Published in 2005 by Kids Can Press) Another delightful book about a little girl talking about festivals.

I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi

(Published in 2001 by HMH Books for Young Readers) another book about life in Tokyo.

Japanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri: A Year of Seasonal Japanese Festivities by Setsu Broderick, Willamarie Moore

(Published in 2010 by Tuttle Publishing). This book remains my children’s absolute favorite. They keep reading it over and over again, even at times when we don’t specifically learn about Japan. This book includes typical things done in each month of the year, including festivals, food, games and other activities. The illustrations of kittens are absolutely adorable.

K Is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet by Gloria Whelan, Jenny Nolan

(Published in 2009 by Sleeping Bear Press) I like the “Alphabet book” series very much, although I admit it’s better to enjoy these books little by little as they provide a lot of information for each letter. Might be more interesting for older kids (2nd- 3rd grade and up)

Count Your Way Through Japan by James Haskins, Martin Skoro

(Published in 1988 by Carolrhoda Book) This book introduces number 1-10 in Japanese and presents cultural aspects associated with each number.

Colors of Japan by Holly Littlefield

(Published in 1997 by Carolrhoda Books) This one uses colors to introduce culture of Japan.

Sushi for Kids: A Children’s Introduction to Japan’s Favorite Food by Kaoru Ono, Peter Howlett, Richard McNamara

(Published in 2003 by Tuttle Publishing). This book introduces the young readers to the wonderful world of sushi.


A Treasury of Japanese Folk Tales: Bilingual English and Japanese Edition by Yuri Yasuda, Yoshinobu Sakakura (Illustrator)

(Published in 2010 by Tuttle Publishing). This is a bilingual book of  12 most famous Japanese fairy tales. Lovely illustrations. This book is of a special value to a student of Japanese language.

Japanese Nursery Rhymes: Carp Streamers, Falling Rain and Other Traditional Favorites by Danielle Wright, Helen Acraman

(Published in 2012 by Tuttle Publishing). Delightful collection of Japanese Nursery Rhymes. Complete with a CD this book include both romaji pronunciation of  all the nursery rhymes and English translation.

Buying Mittens by Nankichi Niimi

( Published in 1999 by University of Hawaii Press) This book is another great favorite of ours, absolutely charming story, gorgeous illustrations.
buying mittens

Japanese Fairy Tales by Yei Theodora Ozaki

(Published in 2007 by Tuttle Publishing) This book includes 22 tales, both famous and less-known. This book has black and white illustrations and might be more interesting to older kids.

The Boy Who Drew Cats and Other Japanese Fairy Tales by Lafcadio Hearn, Frances A. Davis, Francis A. Davis

(Published in 2012 by Dover Publications), this book is more suitable for early elementary students, this inexpensive edition provides a great start for those interested in Japanese fairy tales. Lovely illustrations.

Popular Culture:

Kimonos by Annelore Parot

This book, as well as others by this author, are very pretty “books to play with” featuring kokeshi dolls.


Those kids, that, like mine, are fascinated with works of Hayao Miyazaki will certainly love picture book renditions of Studio Ghibli most celebrated movies. These books are full of screen caps from the movies, the books faithfully follow the movies.

My Neighbor Totoro Picture Book

Ponyo Picture Book

Howls Moving Castle Picture Book

Spirited Away Picture Book: Picture Book

There are also comic versions of these picture books.

My kids are not old enough for manga yet, but I enjoyed Rurouni Kenshin, and I plan to introduce my son to this comic sometimes soon (although I did not read all the volumes). I also enjoyed two mangas based on Makoto Shinkai’s movies 5 cm per second and Hoshi no Koe.

This list includes our most beloved books, and as our list expands I will add more to it, I’m sure.

For grown ups interested in books from and about Japan there’s a great list on goodreads

Stay tuned for another post about our learning about Japan activities.

If any of my readers has a favorite book about Japan, please share in comments!


One thought on “BOOK PILE: Children Books About Japan

  1. Pingback: Hinamatsuri 2015 | Sunflowerous Days

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