Moving to Japan with children? Crown Relocations as international movers understand that some children may be anxious and this guide can help give them some information on the adventure they are about to go on.
Japan is an island country in Asia that lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. Over 126 million people live there.
Most of Japan’s people live in cities. Tokyo, the capital, is also the largest city in Japan. Other major cities in Japan are Yokohama, Kyoto, Kobe and Osaka. All of these cities are on the main island, which is called Honshu. The other islands of Japan include Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa.
In addition to beautiful beaches, there are mountains all over Japan. The highest is Mount Fuji, which is over 12,000 feet or 3776 m tall. At one time this mountain was a volcano. Today it is safe for people to climb. On a very clear day you can see Mount Fuji from Tokyo. Often, the mountain is hidden from view by a cloud.
What’s the weather like?
Japan is beautiful in the spring, from March to May, when the skies are sunny and the cherry blossoms blooming. During the summer months of June to August, the weather is much warmer. It can get very sticky. Autumn, from September to November is cool, dry and clear. The leaves change to beautiful colours like red, yellow and orange. Winter, from December to February can be very cold. It snows in some places, but often the snow melts quickly. You will notice that the tops of mountains say white with snow for most of the year.
In late March, all over Japan you will see many, many cherry trees in full blossom. The beautiful blossoms have five petals and a pink. People sit on a plastic sheet under the trees and have picnics. They eat and have fun and rest and relax. This is called hanami - looking at the cherry blossoms.
What’s there to do?
Amusement parks of all kinds can be found in Japan. A few of the most exciting ones are Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, Yomiuri Land and Yokohama Hakkeijime Sea Paradise. Smaller parks are nice places to ride your bike or enjoy a picnic.
You and your family may also visit some of Japan’s famous landmarks. If you’re in Tokyo, you can climb up Tokyo Tower. The tallest iron tower in the world, it also has an aquarium and a wax museum.
Sports in Japan
If you like to play soccer or baseball, most schools have sports teams you can join. You can also take lessons in sports like karate, kendo (fencing with wooden sticks), judo and aikido. Watching a sumo wrestling match can be a lot of fun to!
How will I get around?
There are many different ways to travel around Japan cities. You will see buses, subways, bicycles, taxis and trains. Trains in Japan are fast, clean, comfortable and come often. There are local trains and shinkansen, which are superfast bullet trains. Shinkansen reached speeds of up to 167 mph or 270 km/h.
Excuse me, what did you say?
• Good morning – Ohayo
• Hello – Kon Nichiwa
• Thank You – Arigato
• Yes – Hai
• No – Iie
• My name is .. – Watashi no namae wa ...
• What is your name? – Anata no namae wa nan desu ka.
What will I eat?
You will really enjoy Japanese food. Everybody knows about sushi in Japan, but there are many other popular foods to. You can also try soba (buckwheat noodles), sembei (rice crackers), okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and tempura, which is deep-fried shrimp or vegetables. You can drink o-cha (green tea).
But when you’re in the mood for something different, there are many other places to eat in Japan. Eateries you might recognise include Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Holidays in Japan
There are several special days that are celebrated in Japan. Here are a few:
Oshogatsu (New Year holiday) January 1
On New Year’s Eve, the temples around Japan ring their big bells at exactly midnight over and over again to get rid of all the bad luck. For New Year’s Day, Japanese people prepare special food called osechi and ozone.
Setsuban (Bean-Throwing Festival) February 3 or 4
On this day, everyone gets ready for the coming year. Dried soybeans are thrown around the house to get rid of bad luck or evil spirits. Often one parent will wear a monster mask and the children will chase them around the house throwing beans at them. The kids say “oni wa soto” (which means “out with evil”) and “fuku wa uchi” (which means “in with good luck”). Finally, the kids chased their parents (the “monsters”) out of the house, throwing beans at them through the doors and windows.
Hina Matsuri (Girl’s Day or Doll Festival) March 3
To celebrate Girl's Day (also called the Doll Festival), Japanese families display sets of very fine dolls of the Emperor and Empress, their servants and musicians. These dolls are arranged on red shelves. Young Japanese girls dress in their best Japanese kimono (or dress) and eat traditional foods that are usually of pastel colours to show the coming of spring.
Kodomo No Hi (Children’s Day or Boys Day) May 5
For Children’s Day (also called Boy’s Day), streamers with flags shaped like carp (a type of fish) are hung from rooftops and balconies. The carp is an important symbol because it is a strong swimmer, and parents hope that their sons will also be strong. Sometimes Japanese families also display samurai warrior dolls on this day.
Taiiku No Hi (Sports Day) October 10
Many schools and neighbourhoods hold their yearly fields events on Sports Day. It is a day of races, games and other competitions. Kids dress in team colours and prizes are awarded. If you can, enter one of these sports days with your whole family. There is something for everyone!
Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three Day) November 15
Shichi-Go_san is a special celebration in Japan. It means seven, five, three Day. It is on November 15. It is a day where girls at the age of 7 or 3 and the boys at the age of 5 dress up in kimonos or their best clothes. Their parents take them to a shrine to pray to their gods to thank them for being alive.
Am I Really Going To Love It?
Of course! You’re going to a land of adventure with so much to do. Soon you will have new friends, you’ll be learning a new language and having a good time.