A Kid’s Life: Japan

23 Jul

A while back I published my first post in my A Kid’s Life series.  I give a short interview with families from around the world about their daily traditions and routines.  I thought it would be a great way to see how other people pass a regular day in their life and see how it differs from ours.

For this A Kid’s Life post I decided to contact my friend Kumi who lives in Japan.  Kumi and I studied French together many years ago and she is one of those gentle, generous souls.  We’ve kept in touch on and off over the years via snail mail and we recently got to see each other again in person on our recent trip to Japan.  We met as young single women and are now both happily married mamas.  How times have changed.

After spending time with Kumi and her family we realized that although we live in different countries with different cultures and daily rhythms, some things about life with kids are universal.  Such as ice cream and skip rope!

Here’s Kumi’s interview accompanied by a few photos that I took while staying with them.  Enjoy!

Where do you live?

We live in Japan.

Are both you and your husband the same nationality?

Yes, we are both Japanese.

How many children do you have?  What are their ages?

We have one daughter who is 7 years old.

Do you both work or does someone stay at home?

My husband works full time and I work only 2 days per week.

How many languages do you speak at home?

We speak Japanese together.  Sometimes we speak some English as a sort of game.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

In Japan kids start school at 6 or 7 years old.

During the school year, what time do you wake up?

We wake up at 6:30am.

What is a typical breakfast for your family?

We eat rice balls and miso soup.

What time does school start and finish?  What is the weekly school schedule?

My daughter is in the second grade and starts school at 8:40 and finishes at 2:20pm.  In the higher grades the kids finish at 3:15pm.  In second grade the kids learn Japanese, arithmetic, drawing, manual arts, physical training, calligraphy, music and life studies.

Do your kids learn a second or third language at school?  From what age?

In Japan they learn English from the second grade.  They learn English games and songs…not too hard!

Do kids eat lunch at home or at school?  What is a typical lunch?

Usually kids eat lunch at school.  They mainly eat rice or bread and milk but sometimes also Chinese, Italian, Korean and Mexican food.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

My daughter doesn’t do any after-school activities but this is VERY rare in Japan.  Usually almost all kids do dance, swimming, calligraphy, English, abacus etc etc.

What time do you eat dinner?  What is a typical dinner you would eat?

We usually eat around 7pm.  A favorite dinner of my husband is okonomiyake (Japanese pizza).

How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis?

Usually 2 hours.

What’s bed time in your house?

My daughter goes to bed around 9:30pm.

What are some typical family week-end activities?

In the mornings my daughter watches cartoons and then we do some shopping and go anywhere my daughter wants!

When is the school vacation?

In the summer there is the 44 days of summer vacation from late July to late August.  Then there are a few weeks in December and in March/April.

What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

A vegetable soup made with white radish or cabbage and boiled fish or meat paste.

Do you notice any big differences between Kumi and her family’s life and yours?  I personally love the breakfasts they eat and the fact that school ends so early in the afternoon.  Any other questions that you think might be interesting to ask?  Check out the last A Kid’s Life:Italia here.

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20 Responses to “A Kid’s Life: Japan”

  1. patamà July 23, 2012 at 23:56 #

    Miso soup for Breakfast? Fantastico!

  2. Judith July 27, 2012 at 16:42 #

    This is such a great series Jillian. Can’t wait to discover more daily rituals & habits from all over the world!

    • Jillian in Italy August 5, 2012 at 15:41 #

      Thanks Judith. I have a few coming up that will be really interesting!

  3. Kristy Gardner September 21, 2015 at 01:39 #

    Thank you, Jillian! I am utilizing your research to help my Brownie Troop to learn more about children in different cultures.

    • Zack Parker December 5, 2016 at 21:17 #

      This helped me out a lot for a school essay! THX!

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