October 26th, 2016
"Ichijiku Ninjin" is a fun Japanese song we just learned that’s a play on words. In the song you count from 1 to 10 while listing vegetables that have similar sounds to the numbers. You can learn Ichijiku Ninjin on our song page where we give a literal translation. We tried to make an English […]
March 15th, 2016
Sadao Mazuka wrote to us from Japan about the different genres of Japanese children’s music… There are three genres of children’s songs nowadays: 1. Warabe uta – Old Japanese children’s songs (similar to nursery rhymes). Musicians eventually gave them tunes. 2. Shoka (唱歌 or 文部省唱歌) – Songs authorized by the Ministry of Education after the […]
April 7th, 2015
May 5th is Children’s Day in Japan! Carp shaped windsocks are flown to celebrate the day. Crafts include origami (おりがみ) of carp streamers (こいのぼり) and samurai helmets (かぶと). Here’s a video showing how to make an origami carp windsock… Here’s a video showing how to make a samurai helmet. (If you make it larger and […]
October 11th, 2014
Can you believe that the American song "Yankee Doodle" is the music that played at the start of the revolution that lead to an Imperial Japan? ‘Yankee Doodle" is a song from prerevolutionary America. The British used it to mock the American Colonists. Then the Americans turned around and proudly claimed the song as their […]
March 26th, 2013
Debbie wrote from Japan about cherry blossoms, which are called sakura in Japanese. Spring is a favorite time to view the sakura and have picnics. Here’s what Debbie wrote: Everything comes in sakura colors right now. Doughnuts. Noodles. Even the exercise ladies in my morning exercise show were wearing sakura-colored t-shirts. Never mind that the […]
June 2nd, 2010
Teru-teru-bōzu is a doll Japanese people make and hang in the window when they want to wish for nice weather. This tradition is very old. Ayako Egawa wrote from Japan about teru-teru-bozu… “Teru teru bozu” is a doll made of white cloth or tissue. People, especially kids, make it when they wish it will be […]
February 15th, 2010
Liz wrote… Hello: I just found your website – not sure if you can help, but I have a request. A little background first… my first speaking language was Japanese, my mother was fluent and my father, although not Japanese was quite fluent as well. It’s a long story, but at the age of 4 […]
February 4th, 2010
I’m going into my daughter’s class this week to talk about some Japanese Festivals. It may be helpful to other people who are also covering this topic for me to outline what I’m covering with links to more material. 1) Hina Matsuri – Doll Festival – March 3rd – people pray for their daughters’ future […]
In Japan they celebrate Jugoya – the Full Moon Festival. It’s also a celebration of the harvest. The day of the celebration varies since it’s on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It’s usually on the night of the full moon in August or September. Here’s an illustration of […]
January 26th, 2010
Erin Yuki Violet Taylor wrote: If you are on the lookout for Japanese hand rhymes, this one is called Nabe Nabe Sokonuke… Nabe nabe sokonuke, sokogenuketaro kaerimasho. While you’re saying it, you hold hands with the other person and swing your hands, and when you say “Kaerimasho” (let’s go home), you turn around and swing […]
July 30th, 2009
One wonderful festival that takes place in Japan in July is the Star Festival, also known as Tanabata. Tanabata means “evening of the seventh”… the Star Festival takes place at night on July 7th every year. Tanabata is originally based on a Chinese legend. Tanabata celebrates the meeting of a husband and wife. They are […]
There are some lullabies in Japan that start with variations of the line, “Nenneko yo”. “Nenneko yo” is literally “Sleep, baby child”. Here are some I found in an old book called “A Japanese Miscellany: Strange Stories, Folklore Gleanings, Studies Here & There” by Lafcadio Hearn (1901). They’re Japanese transliterations with translations. Nenneko, nenneko, Nenneko […]
April 7th, 2009
When the Cherry Blossoms bloom in Japan it’s traditional to go to the park to view the blossoms and have a picnic. Cherry Blossom viewing is called called Hanami. Ayako Egawa generously shared her photos of this years cherry blossom viewing. Ayako wrote, "We walked under the flow of cherry blossoms in the park. It […]
March 19th, 2009
Hina Matsuri or “Doll Festival”, is celebrated in Japan on March 3rd every year. Ayako Egawa wrote to me from Japan about the holiday: “Families with daughters celebrate March 3 by displaying Hina-dolls on a stepped shelf to express the wish for their daughters’ good health and growth. I posted a photo of ‘Hina-dolls’ (below). […]
January 12th, 2008
Raquel wrote to me: Hi, I LOVE your website! Charming, charming and so fun! I was looking for a Japanese song about how raccoons or badgers make a drum sound on their tummies. It was on an Ann Leif Barlin record many years ago. It goes like this (I hope): Sho, sho sho joji sho […]
October 16th, 2007
Kristen wrote: Hi, We have our preschool concert coming up soon and we’re hoping to do “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes” with the kids. We are learning body parts in Japanese but need the translation for the whole song. This is what we have… is this correct? We need the section “Let’s all clap hands […]
May 17th, 2007
Roxanne Dixon sent me this wonderful recording of some Japanese schoolchildren singing the well-known song, Donguri Korokoro. Click the link below to hear the recording. Below that you’ll find the Japanese transliteration for singing along, followed by an English translation. MP3 Recording of Donguri Korokoro – A Rolling Acorn Donguri Korokoro (Transliteration) Donguri korokoro donburiko […]
April 27th, 2007
Liz Matsumoto wrote: Does anyone know the Japanese childrens song that starts off Teku Teku? If anyone can help out with this song, please comment below or email me. Thanks! Lisa
April 10th, 2007
I recently received this email: Hi… don’t know if you would be able to help me.. but I’m looking for a Japanese song about Teddy Bears – I was told the title is KOUMA – but can’t seem to find it on the net. Would you know where I can locate this video? Thank you […]
April 7th, 2007
Ling Ling wrote: Hi mama lisa. I am Ling ling from Indonesia. I am looking for the lyrics to a Japanese song, I hope you can help me. The title is OKINAKURINO KINO SHITA DE. My teacher taught me this song when I was in high school and I have forgotten the lyrics. Here’s what […]
March 2nd, 2007
Tomorrow, March 3rd, is the Hina Matsuri 雛祭り or Doll Festival in Japan. The Japanese celebration seems to have originated in China, where there was a festival called Shang-suu that had also been celebrated on March 3rd, at least since the 3rd century AD. Shang-suu may go back before that time but the date may […]
December 6th, 2006
Priscilla wrote… Hi, Lisa- Love your website, especially the Japanese Children’s songs. Wondering if you could include the lyrics, melody, and sheet music for “Aka Tombo” Red Dragon Fly. Thank you, Priscilla If anyone can help with this song, please comment below or email me. Thanks! Lisa
November 19th, 2006
Lisa wrote to me… I was born in Tokyo on Johnson’s Air Force Base and have always had a fascination for anything Japanese: songs, stories, customs, and so on. There is a song I learned to sing as a very little girl, but the only part I remember is: Mushie Mushie on na ney. I’m […]
May 3rd, 2006
Tango no Sekku is celebrated on May 5th. In Japan, this day is called Boys’ Festival. It’s been celebrated for over a millennium. Originally it was celebrated in the houses of warriors. It celebrated boys’ courage and determination. Many of the symbols of this day are about having the character of a warrior. Eventually this […]
March 25th, 2006
In my previous entry, I talked about the importance of Hanami, Cherry Blossom Viewing, in the Springtime, in Japan. The cherry blossoms, called sakura in Japanese, bloom at a time when there are lots of new beginnings. Of course it’s the start of new life in the land. But in Japan, it’s also the start […]
When the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan, at the end of March and into April, it’s the sign that Spring is really here! Cherry Blossoms are pronounced as sakura in Japanese. In Japanese text, sakura is 桜or 櫻. Japanese people celebrate with hanami, viewing the cherry blossoms. They have picnics under the sakura trees, with […]
March 9th, 2006
John Caughman sent me an mp3 of him singing the first verse of Moonlight on the Ruined Castle. First you’ll hear it in Japanese and then in English. Here’s the mp3 with a Japanese transliteration (so you can read or sing along), the English translation and the Japanese text… MP3 of Moonlight on the Ruined […]
March 2nd, 2006
In Japan, on March 3rd, Hina Matsuri, people pray for their daughters’ future happiness, health and growth. Hina means doll and matsuri means festival, so Hina Matsuri is literally Doll Festival. It’s also Girls’ Day. Yet another name for the day is Momo no Sekku meaning Peach Blossom Festival, because this is around the time […]
November 14th, 2005
Shichi-go-san, 七五三, takes place on November 15 and it celebrates girls who are 7, boys who are 5, and boys and girls who are 3 years old. These numbers were chosen because odd numbers are considered lucky in Japan. It’s celebrated on the 15th because 7 + 5 + 3 = 15 and November 15th […]
October 13th, 2005
A Rainy Day Song from Japan in English, in Japanese and with an MP3 of the Piano Music It’s still raining here in New York. So, here’s another song about rain. Rainy Day Rainy day, rainy day, I like it; My mother will come here with my umbrella, Pitch pitch, chap chap, run run run! […]
Please contribute a traditional song or rhyme from your country.
More about Japanese Kids Songs...
A Mama Lisa Book
Over 50 songs and rhymes, in French with translations into English. You'll find well-known songs like Frère Jacques, Alouette, and Au claire de la lune, alongside many you may never have heard of. At the end of each item in this book, there's a web address to an online version of the song or rhyme. There we are often able to include sheet music, recordings and videos of performances. We hope this book will help foster a love of French songs and culture all over the world! Order Here!
People everywhere love Christmas – but we don’t all celebrate it the same way.
Mama Lisa’s Christmas Around The World is a celebration of the diversity and love with which many different cultures mark this joyful time of year.
You’ll read about:
The first part of the book covers some of the traditions that take place on days other than Christmas itself, like St. Nick’s Day and Epiphany. The history and meaning of these holidays is discussed, often with examples of traditional songs.
The second part presents beloved traditions and songs from many different nations. The songs are given in the original languages and with English translations.
What makes the book really special is the many comments from Mama Lisa’s correspondents who have shared stories and memories from their own lives. The memories of childhood touch us forever!
Many of the songs featured also include links to the Mama Lisa website, where you can find recordings, videos and sheet music.