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Japan: Origami, Samurais, & Green Tea
Do you want to know more about Japan? Are you a lover of travel, geography teacher, homeschooling or involved parent, student, or life-long learner? In an effort to make world geography more meaningful and memorable, I've compiled all you will need to locate Japan on a map, cook a Japanese meal, watch YouTube clips on Japan, color the flag, create a Japanese craft, read a great book about Japan, and more! This is part of a series of lessons I did with my family while studying various countries from around the world. You can see them all at Around the World in 26 Letters .
Where is Japan?
Locate Japan on this map of Asia. Use this map of Japan to label the capitol, Tokyo. Mark other relevant features (rivers, mountains, famous locations, etc.) if desired. If you'd like to spend a bit more time researching the country, you can add the language, currency, type of government, religion, and/or famous landmarks. Write them on the back of the map. You can easily find all this information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan.
Fun Facts about Japan
More than 70% of Japan consists of mountains, including more than 200 volcanoes. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is an active volcano.
Noodles, especially soba (buckwheat), are slurped loudly when eaten. It is often said slurping symbolizes the food is delicious, but the slurping also serves to cool down the hot noodles for eating.
There are around 1,500 earthquakes every year in Japan.
Geisha means "person of the arts" and the first geisha were actually men.
Raised floors help indicate when to take off shoes or slippers. At the entrance to a home in Japan, the floor will usually be raised about 6 inches indicating you should take off your shoes and put on slippers. If the house has a tatami mat room its floor may be raised 1-2 inches indicating you should to take off your slippers.
It was customary in ancient Japan for women to blacken their teeth with dye as white teeth were considered ugly. This practice persisted until the late 1800's.
Cook a Japanese Meal
Prepare and serve Japanese pork cutlets over shredded cabbage, white rice, Japanese cheesecake, and green tea. Don't forget the chopsticks!
Japanese pork cutlets over shredded cabbage
- 4 1/2-inch thick boneless pork chops
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or crushed cornflakes
- vegetable oil (for frying)
- shredded cabbage
- tonkatsu sauce (optional - Kikkoman is one brand that makes this)
- Pound pork to 1/4-inch thickness. Coat the pork with flour, then dip into egg, and finally coat thoroughly with Panko. Deep fry in 1 inch of hot vegetable oil, 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Serve on a bed of shredded cabbage. Serve with Tonkatsu sauce if desired. (This recipe came from food.com.)
- Prep time: 5 min
- Cook time: 55 min
- Ready in: 1 hour
- Yields: 8-12
Light Japanese Cheesecake
- 7 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar (caster sugar)
- 3 separated eggs
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons jam (apricot or strawberry) for glaze
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch cake tin with non-stick cooking spray. Beat cream cheese with milk to soften. Add half of the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and lemon juice, beating until smooth.
- Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar and cream of tartar, beating on high speed until soft peaks form, about 8-10 minutes.
- Gradually fold beaten egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, stirring gently. Pour into cake pan and smooth the surface. Place the cake pan into a larger roasting pan and place in lower rack of oven. Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the side of the cake pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a pick inserted in the middle of the center comes out clean. If desired, drizzle a jam glaze over the top. To make the glaze, simply microwave the jam for 20-30 seconds. (This recipe came from food.com.)
Our Favorite Picture Books About Japan
This 32 page picture book does a great job of comparing Japanese and American ways of life while respecting both cultures. It is about an American boy whose family moves to Japan.
This 32 page picture book is delightful story telling about modern life in Tokyo. It includes aspects of their daily life and also holidays they celebrate. I liked that it does not focus on their religion as much as many other picture books on Japan.
K is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet (Discover the World) by Gloria Whelan does an excellent job of describing the people, culture, history, and more of Japan. It has beautiful illustrations and includes a short rhyme for each letter (perfect for younger listeners) and additional text to explain each event, aspect, etc. to older children. Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan by Mordicai Gerstein was our folk tale pick for Japan. It takes place in medieval Japan and includes samurai and their wisdom. If you would like to see more of our favorite picture books on Japan, visit my lesson plan on Japan.
Pray for the people of Japan
To find out about the religious nature of Japan and specific ways you can pray for the country, go to operationworld.org.
Visiting Japan on YouTube
Journey to Japan
Adventures: Japanese Supermarket
Kyoto, Japan Geisha Tour
Where is Tokyo, the capital of Japan?
I've been to Japan. Have you visited Japan yet?
Other countries starting with the letter J
Would you prefer to study a different country? Try one of these.
Ready to visit other countries?
Go to around-the-world-in-26-letters to find links to all the countries we "visited." Each webpage features a menu, craft, books, video clips, worksheets, and more!