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How do Americans spend New Year’s Holiday? How is it different from Japan?

In Japan, as soon as Christmas is over, we change over to a Japanese-style “New Year’s Mode” and families replace their Christmas trees with “kadomatsu” and “shimeji rope”. Although Christmas is also popular, the New Year’s Holiday is the main annual event in Japan. In comparison, let’s see how Americans, whose main annual event is Christmas, celebrate the New Year’s Holiday.

How do Americans spend New Year’s Holiday? How is it different from Japan?

New Year’s Celebrations in America – New Year’s Eve

In America, they call 12/31 “New Year’s Eve”. In Japan, most families spend New Year’s Eve watching “Kohaku” (a singing contest broadcast on TV) together. However, in America, the main activity on New Year’s Eve is the countdown live events. The most popular New Year’s Countdown Event is held in Times Square in NYC. Every year more than 1,000,000 people attend the annual festivities in Times Square. Countdown events in Las Vegas and Hawaii are also popular and most regions broadcast their countdown event on TV. So, families who want to avoid the crowds can watch the TV broadcast during their New Year’s home party.

New Year’s Celebrations in America – Countdown

The countdown activities begin 1 minute before midnight on New Year’s Eve and at the end of the countdown many cities have a firework display and participants throw confetti. It is also a custom to kiss the person next to you at the end of the countdown. As a result, most people choose to spend the holiday with their significant other and/or family. Many people stay out all night and party on New Year’s Eve, but others go to bed as soon as the countdown is over. In Japan some people visit the shrine as soon as the year changes and others go to bed and visit the shrine when they wake up. In Japan and in America, how people spend the time after the year changes depends on the individual.

New Year’s Celebrations in America – New Year’s Day

In America, January 1st is called “New Year’s Day”. However, unlike in Japan where families visit the shrine and fly kites, there are no special customs families follow on New Year’s Day. There is no special meal like “Osechi ryori” and instead most families spend the day relaxing quietly at home after the New Year’s Eve festivities. Since most families take a long vacation around Christmas, they go back to work from January 2nd. Some families attend a special ceremony at their church but most families don’t do anything special on New Year’s Day. For Japanese families who are used to lots of New Year’s Day festivities, spending New Year’s in America can feel very quiet and uneventful.
How the New Year’s Holiday is spent in America and Japan is very different. For Americans, the main end of year event is Christmas rather than New Year’s. However, the fact that people in both countries celebrate the end of the year with their loved ones is the same. How American families spend the New Year’s holiday also depends on their cultural background. It is a great idea to teach your child about New Year’s Holidays around the world.
How do Americans spend New Year’s Holiday? How is it different from Japan?

Have Fun with Your Child During Waiting Time Using Hand Play!

Hand play is a great way to build skin ship with your child during the toddler years. Since it does not require toys or special props, if you remember a few hand games, you can play them in the car or whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Many songs have familiar melodies so if you can remember the lyrics it will be easy to begin enjoying them with your child. In this article, we will introduce five hand-plays that can be easily sung and enjoyed with children.


5 Hand-Plays that can be Easily Enjoyed with Children

What can we make with “Goo Choki Paa”?

This hand-play follows the melody of the popular French Folk Song starting with “DoReMiDo” and uses the hand movements “goo choki paa”. It is a hand-play with a relaxed tempo so it is perfect for introducing to children under the age of 1 years old who are becoming interested in hand movements.

グーチョキパーで グーチョキパーで
Goo Choki Paa de, Goo Choki Paa de
なにつくろう なにつくろう
Nani tsukuro, Nani tsukuro
※右手はチョキで 左手はグーで
* Migi Te wa Choki de, Hidari Te wa Goo de
かたつむり かたつむり
Katatsumuri, Katatsumuri (Snail)

* Can be arranged by section as below
右手はパーで 左手もパーで
Migi te wa paa de, Hidari t emo paa de
ちょうちょう ちょうちょう
Cho-cho Cho-cho (butterfly)

右手はパーで 左手はグーで
Migi te wa paa de Hidari te wa goo de
ヘリコプター Helicopter

”Yakimo Goo Chi Paa”

This hand-play includes “janken” (rock, scissors, paper). Following a fun melody, adults make a “hot potato” and “hot hot” motion with their hands and at the end they play “janken” (rock, scissors, paper). This game is particularly popular with 3-year-old children who just learned how to play “janken”.

やきいも やきいも おなかがグー
Yakimo Yakimo Onaka ga goo
ほかほかほかほか あちちのチー
Hoka Hoka Hoka Hoka Achichi no chi
たべたらなくなる なんにもパー
Tabetaranakunaru Nanimo paa
それ やきいもまとめて グーチーパー
Sore Yakimo Matomete Goochipaa
じゃんけん ぽん!
Janken Pon

Most Japanese parents remember singing the “Obento Bako” song when they were younger. Since it is a song based on the theme “lunchbox”, it is a fun hand play game to enjoy before eating or when going on a picnic outdoors. You can even try the “sandwich version” of the song.

これっくらいの おべんとばこに 
Koregurai no obentobako ni
おにぎり おにぎり ちょいとつめて
Onigiri Onigiri Choitotsumete
きざみしょうがに ごましおふって 
Kizamishoga ni gomashiofutte
にんじんさん さくらんぼさん
Ninjinsan Sakuranbosan
しいたけさん ごぼうさん
Shiitakesan Gobousan
あなのあいた れんこんさん
Ana no aita renkonsan
すじのとおった ふき
Suji no totta fuki


The “Arupusuichimanjaku” song is played in groups of 2, and the 2 children have fun clapping hands with each other. It requires children to use their brains so it is best suited for children between the age of 4 and 5 years old. The game becomes more difficult as you speed up the song so it is a great challenge for older children.

アルプス一万尺 小槍の上で
Arupusuichimanjaku ko yari no ue de
アルペン踊りを さぁ 踊りましょ
arupen odori o sa~a odorimasho
ランラ ラン ラン ラン ラン ラン ラン
ranra ran ran ran ran ran ran
ランラ ラン ラン ラン ラン ラン
ranra ran ran ran ran ran

ランラ ラン ラン ラン ラン ラン ラン
ranra ran ran ran ran ran
ラン ラン ラン ラン ラン
ran ran ran ran ran ran

Zui zui zukkorobashi

This familiar hand play is great for 4-5-year-olds. Playing in a group of 3 or more is recommended to make the game more exciting.

ずいずい ずっころばし ごまみそ ずい
Zui zui zukkorobashi goma miso zui
ちゃつぼに おわれて トッピンシャン
chatsu bo ni owa rete toppinshan
ぬけたら ドンドコショ
nuketara dondokosho
たわらの ねずみが 米くって チュー
ta wara no nezumi ga bei ku tte chū
チュー チュー チュー
chū chū chū
おとさんが 呼んでも おかさんが 呼んでも
oto-san ga yonde mo oka-san ga yon demo
iki kkonashi yo
井戸のまわりで お茶碗かいたの だあれ
ido no mawari de o chawan kaita noda are
We introduced 5 hand-plays that can be easily sung and enjoyed with children. Please try them with your child when you have some time to wait and do not have any toys with you. Hand-plays can also be enjoyed at preschools and other classes and are a great way to improve your child’s sense of rhythm and coordination.

oints Parents Should Keep in Mind When Practicing How to Get Dressed with their Child

As a child, it is harder to dress themselves at first than most adults think. Many young children want to be independent and do it themselves but when it is harder than they thought they get frustrated and cry. In this article, we will introduce some steps for parents to follow when practicing how to get dressed with their little one.

oints Parents Should Keep in Mind When Practicing How to Get Dressed with their Child

Points to Keep in Mind When Practicing How to Get Dressed with their Child

Encourage them with small steps

Although many children can start dressing themselves between the age of 2-3yrs, children do not actually gain control of their hands and fee until the age of 4-5yrs. When teaching their child how to get dressed, it is important that parents start with small steps, like putting one’s head through the top of his/her shirt or putting their legs through their pants. If parents praise their child for these little steps, they will gain a sense of accomplishment and be motivated to try more steps next time. Keep in mind that your child will not be able to all the steps the first time.

Practice when your child is in a good mood

For parents, getting dressed is a normal part of everyday life but for children it is a challenge. For example, they may be able to do it on their own sometimes and not at other times. It is not a good idea to have them practice when they are tired or in a bad mood.
Forcing them to practice when they are not in the mood will only end up bring negative results. Let’s make sure we encourage our children to practice when they are motivated to learn.

Encourage them to want to do it themselves

When children are not motivated to try dressing by themselves, it is often effective to let them choose their own clothing or tell them that they will go outside as soon as they are dressed. Allowing them to choose what they wear will get them interested in clothing in general. It will also help them become motivated to try getting dressed on their own.

Choose clothing that is easy to put on

Clothing that is stretchy and roomy is easier for children to put on. When practicing, parents should avoid tops with tight necks and pants with tight waists. Also clothing with pockets in the front and pictures on the front and tags on the inside neck are easier for children to put on. Starting to practice with these types of clothing will help your child remain motivated to learn how to dress him/herself.

Practice using buttons with pajamas or outerwear

Practice using buttons with larger buttons. We recommend using pajamas or outerwear. It is best to start with the lower buttons and move up to the higher ones. Parents can stand behind their child and show them how to do the button first. This will help their child learn how to move their fingers and also make them feel loved when they feel the warmth of their mom or dad’s body.
We introduced some points for parents to keep in mind when teaching their child how to get dressed. The secret is to start with small steps and praise them along the way. If their parents are there to encourage them, children will gain the independence and sense of accomplishment they need.
Points Parents Should Keep in Mind When Practicing How to Get Dressed with their Child

Let’s use an Advent Calendar(popular in Western cultures) to make the holiday season exciting!

We often see advent calendars in shops in Japan around the holiday season. The calendar wasn’t around when many parents were young so it still unknown by many families. The advent calendar is traditionally used in Western cultures to build excitement about Christmas and using it often helps parents form special bonds with their child. In this article, we will introduce the origin of the advent calendar and share some ideas of homemade creations.

Let’s use an Advent Calendar(popular in Western cultures) to make the holiday season exciting!

Origin of the Advent Calendar

Advent originally refers to the period of waiting for the birth of Jesus Christ. From the second half of the 5th century, it was supposed to be a period of fasting and purifying before Christmas. During the 4 weeks before Christmas Eve, every Sunday families ignited the advent wreath as a symbol of patronage.

Use of the current advent calendar was said to have begun by a loving mother in 19th Century Germany. The mother gave her son, who continued to ask when Christmas arrived, one “Lepkuchen” (traditional cake) each day for the 24 days before Christmas. The child enjoyed eating the cakes every day and became excited about Christmas coming on the 25th. When the son became an adult, he wanted to share his experience with children around him and invented a simple advent calendar with 12 windows and 1 chocolate behind each window. The calendar became very popular in Germany and eventually around the world.

Let’s enjoy using the advent calendar with our children!

Although there are many kinds of advent calendars currently sold in Japan, it is also fun to create your own. Having an advent calendar that matches your child’s interests makes it more fun!

Creating an advent calendar is easy. First, prepare 24 small presents in separate plastic or paper bags and stick them to each day for the month of December on a big calendar. This version is very simple to make but if you use special Chrismas-themed bags the final product will be very nice.

You can also put the date on each bag and hang the bags from the Christmas Tree. Children will enjoy searching for the present each day.

The contents of each bag and be chocolate, candy, gummies or any small present your child will enjoy. Parents can also write a simple message and put it in the bag with the candy.
We introduced the origin of the advent calendar and gave some ideas of how it can be created at home. Although December is a busy month, making time to spend with your child and encouraging him/her to gain excitement for Christmas is a good idea. Children will enjoy using their parents’ homemade advent calendar every day.
Let’s use an Advent Calendar(popular in Western cultures) to make the holiday season exciting!

Asagaya & Yokohama Schools April 2020 NEW OPEN!

We will be opening two new locations (Asagaya & Yokohama Bashamichi) in April 2020 under the brand name Gymboree International School. Both schools will offer Mommy & Me (0-6yrs), Preschool Prep (1.5-2.5yrs), Preschool (2-6yrs) and After School (3-6yrs) programs. Please check below for the address of each location.

Asagaya School: 2-40-1 Asagaya Minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo

Yokohama Bashamichi School: 5-57-3 Kitanakadori, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa

We are holding Open Houses on a monthly basis. Please refer to the following link for details:



Join us for our NEW Preschool Prep Class!

During our original 3 hour Preschool Prep class, children between the age of 1.5-2.5 years will prepare for our 5 hour preschool program in a fun, All English learning environment. The first hour of the program will be with mom or dad so children can slowly practice their separation skills.

Learn more(PDF)


【From the Philippines】5 Popular Children’s Games

Although they have their own language (Tagalog), English is the main language of the Philippines. Today, you can still find children with happy and innocent smiles playing traditional games from the Philippines throughout the country. In this article we will introduce 5 traditional games Philippine children enjoying playing.

【From the Philippines】5 Popular Children’s Games

The playful environment of the Philippines

Philippine children enjoy playing tag, jump rope and origami just like Japanese children. The most popular games require no props or toys or the use of items that are readily available. You can see many Philippine children enjoying themselves on the roadside.

Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines. You can find basketball nets all around the town and children big and small playing with a basketball. Volleyball is popular among girls and you will find basketball and volleyball teams in most cities and games played on weekends.

5 Popular Games in the Philippines

Thunpan Pleso

In this game, which is like the Japanese can kicking game, children through sandals instead of kicking cans. Children place a can where the person who is “it” is standing and then through sandals at the can to knock it over. If the can falls, the person who was “it” returns the can to its original place and the child who threw the sandal goes and picks up his/her sandal. However, if he/she is touched by the person who is “it” then he/she is out.

Luxon Tnic

In this game, two children hook both hands and feet and form a wall. Other children try to jump over the wall and compete as to who jumps the highest. This game does not require any props. However, there is another game that is similar during which children use rubber bands called “Chinese Garter” which is also very popular.

Sack Race

In this game, children use a sack (rice bag). They put both their feet in the bag and jump forward. The child who makes it to the goal line first wins. This game is often part of Sports Day activities in Japan as well.

Palo Parayoc

This game is like the “watermelon smash” game often played in Japan. In this game, children who are blindfolded try to smash a bucket filled with candy instead of a watermelon. Once the bucket is broken children race to get all the candy. The game is often played at birthday parties and Christmas events.

Menco, Damper

We rarely see them anymore in Japan but in the Philippines “menco” are still popular among younger elementary school children. It is a nostalgic sight to see children playing with “menco” on the streets. There is also another popular game that uses “damper” (rubber bands) instead of “menco”. In this game, children place the rubber band on the ground and use both hands to blow the rubber band in front of them. The child who pushes the rubber band the farthest wins.
Many popular games played in the Philippines can be played anywhere without any special props. Since they do not require special props, children can play them in big groups anytime and anywhere. It is important for children to get in the habit of playing in big groups from a young age. In Japan, which has a low birthrate, attending early childhood classes is a great way to meet new people and socialize with one’s peers.
【From the Philippines】5 Popular Children’s Games
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