A year ago, in one of my first 5 Faves posts, I shared a list of Japan-related children’s books. Recently, I’ve been asked for some additional suggestions, so I thought it warranted a second post. When I started looking into it, I realized there was a sizable amount of Japan-related literature out there. So if any of you have kids and are heading to Japan, here are a few more excellent pre-trip resources to check out.
1. Look What Came From Japan by Miles Harvey – Part of a series of international books, this edition focuses on the things we use in everyday life in the States that came from across the Pacific. Going beyond the stereotype of Pokemon and Hello Kitty, Harvey focuses on other acquisitions like soy sauce, kendo and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
2. Hiromi’s Hands by Lynne Barasch – This book follows the joint story of a father and daughter sushi chef team. Akira Suzuki learns his craft in Japan before immigrating to the United States; his daughter Hiromi grows up in a different culture, but still wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. She eventually becomes one of New York’s first female sushi chefs.
3. The Drums of Noto Hanto by J. Alison James – The story of a village fighting off a band of invading samurai is inspiring enough on its own, but it’s the strong beat of the drums echoing through the text that really sells this tale. I could actually visualize taiko performers pounding their drums as I read. The wood-cut style illustrations are lovely as well.
4. Basho and the Fox by Tim J. Myers – Starring legendary haiku master Basho, this story highlights his encounter with a clever but vain fox. The story actually features Basho’s most famous poem, and the humorous end is a welcome surprise.
5. Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa – The most serious yet most timely book on this list, Tsunami tells the story of Ojisan, an old man who is the only member of his village to witness the sea recede, the sure sign of an impending tsunami. His subsequent actions save the lives of his village – a tale that is based on an historical event from the mid-1850s.