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Last Updated: Jun 10, 2016 URL: http://resources.primarysource.org/japan Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Picture Books

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Tea with Milk - Allen Say
After growing up near San Francisco, a young Japanese woman returns with her parents to their native Japan, but she feels foreign and out of place.

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Grandfather's Journey - Allen Say
A Japanese American man recounts his grandfather's journey to America, which he later also undertakes, and the feelings of being torn by a love for two different countries.

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A Carp for Kimiko - Virginia L. Kroll
Although the tradition is to present carp kites only to boys on Children's Day, Kimiko's parents find a way to make the day special for her.

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Ten Oni Drummers - Matthew Gollub
One by one, ten tiny oni, Japanese goblin-like creatures, grow larger and larger as they beat their drums on the sand, chasing away bad dreams.

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Tree of Cranes - Allen Say
A Japanese boy learns of Christmas when his mother decorates a pine tree with paper cranes.

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The Boy of the Three-Year Nap - Dianne Snyder
A poor Japanese woman maneuvers events to change the lazy habits of her son.

 

Credits

Guide originally created by Jennifer Hanson and revised by Karen Storz.

 

Children's Non Fiction

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Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun - Rhoda Blumberg
Details Commodore Matthew Perry's role in opening Japan's closed society to world trade in the 1850s, one of history's most significant diplomatic achievements.

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Japan: The Culture - Bobbie Kalman
A survey of the culture of Japan, including religion, holidays and festivals, fashion, arts, and customs.

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Japan: The Land - Bobbie Kalman
Introduces the geography, weather, people, and industry of Japan.

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Japan: The People - Bobbie Kalman
Photographs and text describe family life, education, work, leisure time, and sports in Japan.

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Japan in Pictures - Alison Behnke
Photographs and text provide information on the history, government, economy, people, geography, and cultural life of Japan.

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If I Lived in Japan - Roseanne Knorr
Entertaining verses and delightful illustrations introduce young children to the daily customs and language of their peers living in Japan.

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Chibi: A True Story from Japan - by Barbara Brenner and Julia Takaya
A true story of a family of ducks living in the Mitsui Office Park and Imperial Gardens in Japan, that had many people interested and watching them.

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All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More - Willamarie Moore and Kazumi Wilds

 

Folktales

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The Adventure of Momotaro, the Peach Boy - Ralph F. McCarthy
Momotaro, a boy born from a peach, travels to the Land of the Demons, joined by his faithful companions, the Dog, The Monkey, and the Pheasant.

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The Crane Wife - retold by Odds Bodkin
A retelling of the traditional Japanese tale about a poor sail maker who gains a beautiful but mysterious wife skilled at weaving magical sails.

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The Moon Princess - retold by Ralph F. McCarthy
A retelling of the Japanese story in which an old bamboo cutter finds a child in a bamboo stalk, raises her, and is surprised to find that her destiny lies far, far away.

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The Story of Yuriwaka: A Japanese Odyssey - translated and retold by Erik and Masako Haugaard
A retelling of Homer's Odyssey in which Odysseus is transformed into Yuriwaka, the strongest man in Japan, who commands the Emperor's ships battling the pirates of Shiragi.

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The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks - Katherine Paterson
A pair of mandarin ducks, separated by a cruel lord who wishes to possess the drake for his colorful beauty, reward a compassionate couple who risk their lives to reunite the ducks.

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Under the Cherry Blossom Tree: An Old Japanese Tale - retold and illustrated by Allen Say
A cherry tree growing from the top of the wicked landlord's head is the beginning of his misfortunes and a better life for the poor villagers.

 

Kamishibai Plays

The Story of Tanabata: A Kamishibai Play from Japan - adapted by Shin Kitada
The story of the weaver princess who falls in love with the herdsman.

The Bamboo Princess: A Kamishibai Play from Japan - adapted by Kyoko Iwasaki
Folktale that explains how Mt. Fuji received its name.

How the Years were Named: A Kamishibai Play from Japan - retold by Chizuko Kamichi ; illustrated by Yuko Kanazawa ; translated by Donna Tamaki.
"This story is one of several versions that tell how the years of the twelve-year cycle used in East Asia were named after various animals."--Teacher's guide.

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Young Adult Fiction

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Strange Light Afar - Rui Umezawa; Mikiko Fujita, Illustrator (2015)
Master storyteller Rui Umezawa revisits eight popular Japanese folktales, delving beneath their sometimes baffling plot lines to highlight the psychological motivations behind the characters' actions. These stories of the strange and supernatural will appeal to readers of all ages, but they particularly speak to teenagers. Evocative and haunting illustrations by the stunningly talented Mikiko Fujita add to the eerie beauty of this collection. Includes source material for each tale.

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The Sign of the Chrysanthemum - Katherine Paterson
A teenager comes to know himself through contacts with social ills and political unrest while searching for his father in Japan's capital during the Heian period.

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The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn - Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Fourteen-year-old Seiki, a tea merchant's son who longs to be samurai, attempts to solve the mystery of a stolen jewel.

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Of Nightingales that Weep - Katherine Paterson
The vain young daughter of a samurai finds her comfortable life ripped apart when opposing warrior clans begin a struggle for imperial control of Japan.

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Hachiko Waits - Lesléa Newman
Professor Ueno's loyal Akita, Hachiko, waits for him at the train station every afternoon, and even after the professor has a fatal heart attack while at work, Hachiko faithfully continues to await his return until the day the dog dies. Based on a true story; includes an author's note and glossary of Japanese words.

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