Girls' Day Festival in Japan

Strawberry Daifuku Mochi recipe from Just One Cookbook
Strawberry Daifuku Mochi recipe from Just One Cookbook

Girls' Day or "Hinamatsuri" in Japan is celebrated annually on March 3rd for the health and wellbeing of young girls. This special day is also known as "Doll's Day" as families who have girls display ornate dolls (hina dolls or hina-ningyō) atop a 7-tiered platform covered with red carpet starting in February until March 3rd. Each step represents a layer of society from the Heian period in Japan. The dolls are traditionally dressed in court attire according to the period and represent the Japanese Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians. In many cases, these dolls are passed down for generations from a grandmother to mother to daughter.  The origin of this festival dates back to over 1,000 years ago during the Heian period (794-1192).

In addition to displaying the dolls, the Japanese also celebrate by preparing and eating foods of the Spring season and of

pink color. For fun recipes to celebrate Girls' Day at home, check out this post from Just One Cookbook. The website features recipes for the special foods prepared for the festival, such as chirashi sushi, clam soup, and strawberry daifuku.

The strawberry daifuku sounds delicious, especially for those with a sweet-tooth and a perfect recipe to celebrate springtime!

Other fun activities to do with your kids to celebrate and learn about Girls' Day are origami crafts. Follow the steps on this website to create your own Origami Kusudama Flower or watch this YouTube video below to create your own Girls' Day origami dolls!

Have fun introducing your little ones to world cultures and celebrations! If you're celebrating today, share your creations with us using the hashtag #littlepim on Instagram, Twitter or tag us on Facebook. Thanks for reading!

Teaching your child Japanese? Little Pim's Japanese Complete Set opens the door to over 180 basic words and phrases.

Japanese Moms Come Together to Stand With Japan

Here at Little Pim, we’ve been keeping a close watch on the recent disaster in Japan. Our hearts are with everyone who has been affected by the recent earthquakes and tsunami. The magnitude of the tragedy may be obvious to us as parents, but it’s difficult to know what to say to your children, and how to explain it. We don't want to scare them, but we do want them to understand how we are all part of one interconnected world. This weekend, my family went to a festival organized by Stand With Japan, a new association of New York moms who set out to raise money for Save the Children's Japan fund. We took Emmett (six) and Adrian (three), to this family event that included a Japanese bake sale, origami making, and a koto recital (a beautiful Japanese string instrument that you can check out on YouTube).


Emmett had heard about the tsunami at school, and had also seen the wonderful movie Ponyo, about a boy and a half-fish half-girl who weather a tsunami in a small Japanese town. We had talked about the Japanese disaster a bit (one of his classmates is half Japanese and has family there), but I felt I hadn't done enough to help him understand how we could help our Japanese friends from right here in New York.

I think that an important part of raising “global citizens,” is helping our kids make connections between seemingly distant people and places and their own lives, which tend to be filled with very local preoccupations. In addition to giving kids the advantages of being able to communicate with people through speaking another language, it’s important to try and give them access and exposure to other cultures in any way you can. As adults, we sometimes forget that the interconnectedness of the world is not that obvious to children. We hear about Japan on a daily basis and understand both the human tragedy and its global implications, but young children need a helping hand to connect those dots. A cultural event like the one organized by Stand With Japan was great not only because we got to help raise money for relief efforts, but because it showed our boys several important things:

1. There are many Japanese people in our community – people directly connected to the same Japan that Emmett was told about in school.

2. Japan, and Japanese people, have a rich tradition they hadn’t seen before, from the costumes, to the food, tea rituals and music.

3. Most importantly, my kids were able to see how we can help people in the rest of the world though local efforts.

Although my boys aren’t quite ready for the delectable sushi that was on offer, through the sweet goodness of Sticky Buns and Red Bean cakes, they were transported for an hour or two into another culture, something I hope they will grow a taste for.

Q: Are there any local efforts for Japan that you can get involved in, or take your kids to? Have you gone to any already?

Take Action: Donate to the Save the Children Japan Earthquake Tsunami Relief

BAM Kids Film Festival: Light of the River

This weekend I took my son Emmett (now six) to see a wonderful Japanese animated film called “Light of the River” at the BAM Kids Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY. We loved this charming film about a family of displaced river rats who use their smarts and family bonds to escape many perils while trying to get back to their beloved river home. The BAM Kids Festival is in its 13th year and introduces kids to 66 films from 23 countries -- a terrific way for young ones to “travel” and learn about other cultures.

Before the movie started, the festival organizer asked the kids to think about 1) what they liked about the movie, 2) what they didn’t like about the movie and 3) why. This film was for 4-7 year olds and the organizer pointed out to parents that these three questions provide the seeds of “critical thinking”. Taking young children to well-made films like this – and then engaging them in talking about what they saw – is an excellent way to get children engaged in analytical thinking at a young age, and build up media literacy skills. Plus, in watching “Light of the River” Emmett got to see Japan (in animated form) and hear Japanese for 75 minutes (a talented actress read the subtitles out loud right in the theater). He loved the movie and we are still talking about it two days later!

You can watch a trailer for “Light of the River” below. Sorry, there are no subtitles here, but after a few sessions with Little Pim Japanese your kids should be able to help you out!