We’re still having heaps of fun with origami, and since Christmas the children have really been enjoying Once Upon a Time in Japan by Tuttle Publishing. It’s a wonderful collection of 8 Japanese folk tales that were gathered together and translated for a series produced for NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) World Radio.
The children and I were excited to receive this book from Tuttle Publishing, it was like Christmas had come early for us! We’ve been reading and re-reading the stories contained in this 120 page hardcover book.
Each story is short and easy to read, and they fully hold the attention of my children. We love folk tales, and the ones in this book each have a moral. Greediness and the problems it causes are a big theme throughout. These stories were a nice gentle reminder for the children to keep their greediness in check on the lead up to Christmas, and now as the birthday seasons begin.
The folk tales that you’ll read about are:
- The Wife Who Never Eats
- The Mill of the Sea
- The Monkey and the Crabs
- The Magical Hood
- Sleepyhead Taro and the Children
- The Fox and the Otter
- The Gratitude of the Crane
- The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
Rather than just read the folk tales, enjoy them, and let them sit, we’ve had a little fun with them.
The Monkey and the Crabs talks about planting a persimmon tree and enjoying its fruit. We purchased a couple of persimmons (also known as Sharon fruit) so the kids could try them out as it has been a while since they last had one. Kallista wasn’t so fond of it, but Tristan’s now ranked it as his most favourite fruit!
We had planned to plant a seed and watch it grow, but disappointingly, not a single seed was contained within our persimmons.
The story of The Mill of the Sea, that tells of how a generous man came to have everything he needed while his brother who was a hoarder and miser ended up finding his death through his greediness. This is a story about how the seas became salty.
For this story, we decided to have a little science experiment and to see how much salt we could dissolve in a glass of water before it couldn’t hold any more. Tristan’s glass of hot water held 4tsp more salt than Kallista’s glass of cold water.
I asked if they wanted to try a taste of the salty water – Tristan was up for it – he didn’t much care for it!
Sleepyhead Taro and The Children worked together to find a way to get water into the rice fields. Rice cultivation in Japan is quite interesting, so I found a video about it to share with Tristan and Kallista.
There’s more than just a book to read, a CD is included that is perfect for bedtime listening. The tales are narrated in English in a female voice with feeling. Background music is kept to a bare minimum, with just a tiny bit at just the right moments so that you can hear the stories without distraction.
This book was illustrated by a team of four. They’ve done a very good job, and there is a lot to see in the pictures. The characters can be a little wild showing their inner characteristics. The kids laughed at hair growing out of ears, big red noses, and a snot bubble coming from Sleepyhead Taro!
Once Upon a Time in Japan is going to be a treasured addition to our home library, and it will be read over many times again.