Discover More About Japan With These Activities and Games

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One fun thing to do with your girls is to teach them about another country everything from the people of country, weather, culture, food and more. You can center your whole meeting around teaching the girls about Japan.

You can center your whole meeting around teaching the girls about Japan. I’ve included some general facts about the country.  Then beyond just the facts I have provided a pile of games, activities, fun patch suggestions, and other resources to make your event fun and educational. 

Learn Everything You Can About Japan

This is the content you can print and use to put together a poster or just share with your girls.  If you want easy to use games and activities to teach your girls these facts be sure to keep reading through this post.

Did you know? In Japan, it is acceptable to take a nap, called inemuri, on the job—it is viewed as evidence of exhaustion from working very hard.

Geography in Japan: Japan is an archipelago, a string of islands, on the eastern edge of Asia. Japan consists of four main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and nearly 4,000 smaller islands. Almost four-fifths of the country is covered with mountains. The Japanese Alps run down the center of Honshu, the largest island. Mount Fuji is the highest peak of these mountains and is a cone-shaped volcano that is considered to be sacred by the Japanese. Besides Mount Fuji, Japan has about 200 volcanoes in total, 110 of which are still active.

The people of Japan: Japan has a population of around 127 million people. One-third of all Japanese people live in Tokyo, the capital of the county.

Customs in Japan: In the Japanese culture, it is customary for individuals to remove their shoes when entering a house, restaurant, or hotel. The idea behind this is to keep all dirt outside of the establishment.  It is considered very impolite to enter a home with your shoes on.

Bowing, known as ojigi, is also another important custom in Japanese culture. Japanese bow to almost everyone as it is a sign of respect. How many times a person bows and how deeply they bow shows the person’s level of respect to the person they are bowing to.

Animals in Japan: There are a wide range of animals in Japan that are strictly native to the country. The first of these animals is the dugong. The dugong is a herbivorous marine mammal that has a large body that is cylindrical and tapered at both ends. The dugong has skin that is thick and smooth and is pale at birth but becomes darker as it ages. The dugong is referred to as a “sea cow” and they are located in the warm coastal waters of Japan.

The Japanese macaque, better known as a snow monkey, inhabit the ski resorts in the mountainous areas of Japan. These monkeys like to play in the  natural hot springs, to keep warm in the winter time. The macaque are peaceful animals and have become a tourist attraction with their very human-like personalities.

Government in Japan: Japan is the only country in the world with a reigning emperor. The current emperor of Japan is named Naruhito, and he has been in his position since 2019. Emperors have no real power but are instead a symbol of the country’s traditions and unity. The crown is typically passed down from a father to his son or his grandson. Japan has a parliamentary government. This means that the government is made up of a cabinet of members who make decisions on legislature.

Economy in Japan:  The Japanese currency is called the yen and is equal is 0.0091 of a United States dollar. Japan manufactures popular brands we use everyday such as Toyota, Sony, Fujifilm, and Panasonic. Manufacturing is one of Japan’s strengths but the country itself has limited natural resources. Robotics is one of Japan’s most promising fields for economic growth- Japan leads the world in technology.

Armed Forces in Japan: The armed forces is Japan, known as the “Japan Self-Defense Force,” also called the JSDF,  is the military defense force in Japan. The JSFD was created in 1954 are are the fourth most powerful military based on their capabilities. Recently, these forces have engaged in international peacekeeping.

Japan also has a popular military high school that is run by the nations army and referred to as the “Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.” Three-hundred students gain admission to this high school every year. During their time at this school, students participate in activities such as building robots and practicing martial arts.

Language in Japan: Japanese writing consists of three different sets of characters. The first set, called Kanji, is made up of several thousands of Chinese characters. The second and third sets, Hiragana and Katakana, consist of 46 characters each and together are called Kana. Japanese texts can be written in two ways: Western style of traditional Japanese style. In Western style, the text is written in horizontal rows from top to bottom while in the traditional Japanese style, the text is written in vertical columns from the right to the left side of the page. Japanese books also start at the ‘back.’

Religion in Japan:  There are two major religions in Japan- Buddhism and Shintoism. Shintoism focuses on the belief that spiritual powers manifest in natural places such as mountains, rivers, people, and animals. In Shintoism, there are several main expressions including worshiping at local shrines, folk beliefs/practices, sacred scriptures. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha and Buddha means ‘The Awakened One.’ In Buddhism there are ‘Four Noble Truths’ that are about suffering and ‘Four Immeasurables’ which are loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Meditation is a very important part of Buddhism because through meditation, Buddhist can clear their mind. Some Buddhist chose to leave their families to become monks (men only) or nuns (women only). These Buddhists dedicate their lives to sharing the teachings of Buddha.

Education in Japan: The school system in Japan is composed of elementary school, which lasts six years, middle school, lasting three years, high school, lasting three years, and university, lasting four years. Education is only required for the nine years of elementary and middle school, but most students choose to go onto high school. Japanese children enter first grade of elementary school in April after their sixth birthday. These students study Japanese, mathematics, science, social studies, music, crafts, physical education, and home economics. Many schools also offer an English class and information technology is increasingly being taught. Students also learn traditional Japanese arts such as shodo (calligraphy) and haiku (a form of poetry). Classes in schools are also divided into small teams for many activities and sports such as judo, are played.

Food in Japan: Japanese food consists mainly of rice, fish, and vegetables with little meat. There is also little fat or dairy in their diet, and since their diet is very healthy, Japanese people, on average, live longer than any other people in the world. Here are some popular Japanese foods:

  1. Sushi: raw fish and rice wrapped into a small circle
  2. Ramen: Egg noodles in broth
  3. Tempura: Light and crispy deep-fried food including meat or vegetables
  4. Taiyaki: Sweet treats filled with various fillings in the shape of a fish
  5. Yakitory: Chicken cubes on skewers dipped in soy sauce

Recreation in Japan: There are many recreational activities that Japanese people enjoy. One of the more popular activities, sumo, is a style of wrestling and Japan’s national sport. Sumo wrestling has a religious background and following tradition, only men can practice this sport recreationally. Sumo wrestling has simple rules: the wrestler who exits the ring or touches the ground with any body part other than his feet loses. The matches take place on an elevated ring made of clay and sand and usually only last a few seconds.

Judo is another popular Japanese martial art and a sport of the Olympics. Judo emphasizes the training of a person’s body and spirit. There are three basic categories of techniques in Judo which is throwing, grappling, and striking.

Japan Fact Bingo Game Activity Booklet

You may enjoy teaching your girls facts about Japan while playing a game of bingo. In this bingo game there are 24 different Japan facts your girls will learn about playing the game. When you draw a fact listed on the bingo cards you can also tell your girls a little bit about what each of them mean. After one game play again and have girls tell you what each fact means. Learn more and get your Bingo game to play with your girls.

3 Fun Group Games and Activities

Ohajiki

  • Played with round glass counters that look like flattened marbles
  • Spread the pieces on a flat surface
  • Using your index finger, draw an imaginary line between two counters to show what your target is
  • Flick one counter into the other. The first counter must hit the second one cleanly (without touching any other counters)
  • Collect the second counter and select your next target
  • If you miss, if the two counters touch any other counter, or the counters don’t finish in separate positions, it is the next person’s turn
  • The player who finished with the most counters is the winner

Origami Luck Predictor

  • Take a square of paper and fold it in half diagonally, then in half diagonally again. Open the paper and seen that an ‘X’ has been marked by the folded lines- this shows the center.
  • Fold each corner into the center, flip over the paper, and fold each corner into the center again.
  • The reverse side will be the flaps. Slide your index fingers and thumbs into the spaces and push the center down. This will make a pointy flower shape.
  • Write the name of a color on each of the four outside panels.
  • Write a number on each of the eight inside panels.
  • Lift the numbered panels and write four kinds of luck underneath (good fortune, love, happiness, disaster, etc.).
  • To play, place your fingers in the Luck Predictor and ask a friend to choose a color. Use the number of syllables in their choice to get their selection of numbers (blue=2, purple=4, etc.) While you do this, move your corners lengthwise and widthwise.
  • Ask your friend to choose a number that they can see on the predictor.
  • Open the Luck Predictor and tell them the corresponding good/bad luck!

Chopsticks Game

  • At least 2 children are required to play
  • The object of the game is to be the last player left with a hand in the game. A hand is “dead” and has been hidden behind the back when all 5 fingers, or chopsticks, are extended.
  • Players put one finger out and hold their hands in front of them. One person starts by using one of their hands to touch any other person’s hand.
  • The person she touches adds up the number of fingers involved (on the first turn it would be 2- one of each of the children’s hands) and holds that number of fingers out.
  • The next child takes a turn. When it is your turn, if you have more than 1 finger extended on each hand, you can choose to touch your own hands together instead of someone else’s hands. If you do this, you add together the number of fingers on both hands, and then split that number between your two hands in a different way.
  • So, for example, if you had 4 fingers extended on your right hand and 2 on your left hand, you might tap them together then split them so that you have 3 extended on each hand. Obviously it is a good idea to do this if you have 4 fingers extended on one hand, because with one more touch that hand could become “dead” and have to go out of the game. You can’t do this if you 4 fingers extended on each hand, or 4 on the one hand and 3 on the other, as you would just be swapping your fingers around indefinitely.

Quick Fact SWAP Ideas

Bring all the facts the girls are learning together with these easy and free SWAP ideas related to Japan. All you need is a printer, scissors, hole puncher, beads, and safety pins to put together.  SWAPS4Free has a number of different variations of SWAP ideas for this country. Check them out here and get printables and directions to make yours with your troop.

 

Fun Patch Ideas

Japan Landscape Fun Patch

Japan Fun Patch

If this is still not enough Japan inspiration. Checkout my Japan Pinterest board where I share all kinds of other great ideas people have shared online for Japan that you can incorporate into your event.

I enjoyed learning more about Japan, I hope you did too.

Before You Go…

Here are few other around the world ideas I have shared in the past that may be great for your event as well if you are doing more than just Australia.

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Enjoy every minute being a leader and continue to inspire your girls!

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My name is Jodi Carlson, I am a mom, wife, & web designer and come with 25 years of GS experience. I am now sharing my experiences and helping other Girl leaders be great and successful and shape today’s girls to be the leaders of tomorrow. I was blessed with a Son in March of 2015 and stepped down as a full time girl leader, but missed planning and volunteering, so I decided after 25 years I have so many ideas to inspire girls and help leaders so I choose to build this blog and it has grown into a resource beyond GS, I am reaching girl leaders in many organizations.

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