As promised, here is the second installment of Shannan’s favorite kid’s books related to Japan, Okinawa and its cultures.  If you missed the first, it’s HERE.  Take it away, Shannan…


Books my japan 2  Books my japan
My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe is fairly new to our collection, and by far the most informative.  The book details every aspect of daily life here in Japan.  Yumi walks you through her home and city describing the way futons are aired out and then folded, how school children use the same backpack all throughout school, and the proper way to use a Japanese toilet.  At the end of the book several holidays are explained, such as Shichi-Go-San and Undokai.

Books takako

Our most read book is still Takako and the Great Typhoon by Kelly Garcia.  My three year old loves to point out all the “Tako’s” as we are out and about every day.  This book was written, illustrated and designed by spouses here on Oki!  I think all my kids have it memorized as we have read it almost as many times as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  They did an amazing job of recreating common sights on the island.  We have bought these books for going away gifts when a friend or neighbor leaves the island, they would also be great gifts for family back home.

Books 1st 1000
These two books are maybe intended for children but I use them more often.  Sometimes the kids will flip through the pages.  First Thousand Words in Japanese and  Let’s Learn Japanese.  The first is an Internet Linked Usborne book what has a pronunciation guide online, which is nice.  However, I find the second book more useful for day-to-day stuff.  The English word is listed along with the Japanese pronunciation.

Books lets learn
Books lets learn 2

Lastly there are a couple of books we check out occasionally from Foster Library. Japanese Celebrations by Betty Reynolds does an excellent job of detailing each holiday celebrated in Japan.  I taught preschool this year and loved to use this book on holidays such as Hina Matsuri and Kodomo-no-hi. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade comes with a CD and is great for bedtime stories or listening to in the car.  These are short folktales that are somewhat similar to American folktales with a positive theme such as sharing being the moral of the story.

I hope these book recommendations are able to help your child learn more about this fascinating island we have been so lucky to live on.  Our time here is coming to an end and I am so sad to leave.  Flipping through these books in the past few days has brought back memories and a few tears.  I hope that even after we leave, the books will help keep Okinawa alive in my boys’ hearts.  They have had such an exceptional childhood here; freedom to explore tide pools for hours on end, discovering magnificent treasures from starfish to sea glass.  Lazy weekends spent beachside when their only worry was the fact it would eventually get dark and we would have to leave.  Anpanman and Qoo are their favorite cartoons and drinks,  Every home, restaurant, store and festival we have been to they are always greeted with a warm, inviting, friendly smile.  Okay, now I am getting a little too sentimental…

Enjoy the books, lots of good summer reading fun!

Affiliate links embedded in this post. When you purchase the books through Amazon, Okinawa Hai will earn a few pennies at no additional cost to you. Thanks!


  1. I’m so glad that Takako and the Great Typhoon was included in this post! More copies are being delivered to the Kids Cottage on Camp Lester and the Army Gift Shop on Torii this coming week. They can also be purchased at Jakkepoes Pancake House and a limited number are for sale at Coffee Casa. Happy reading!!!

  2. Sorry, I meant to add that. Takako can be purchased at a couple places here on island, Torii gift shop I believe has copies. The Japanese books came from Tsutaya and the rest were ordered from Amazon. If you click on the title of the book it will take you to the Amazon page.