Each week this summer in WOW (Wide Open World), Tenth kids are focusing on a different country where one of our global partners works. Students are sent home with a sheet profiling our partner and his work and another sheet helping them connect to that country’s culture. We encourage families to pray specifically for the partner family of the week and to help their children further explore. This week we will highlight Japan. Children ages 4 through grade 6 are invited to join us in the Catacombs at 6:30 PM every Sunday throughout the summer as we explore what God is doing around the world.

Focus on Japan

Did you know Japan has 6,852 islands? The islands were formed by volcanoes, and one hundred of the volcanoes are still active! Most people live on the four main islands and the need for millions of people to live so close together has caused Japanese society to highly value manners and getting along. It’s important to fit into the group-Even bathing is different. A Japanese bathtub is very deep; the water comes up to the shoulders. So once it’s filled with hot water, it’s kept full, so that each family member can enjoy it. That means you have to clean yourself before you get in the bath tub!

Living in harmony with people and with nature is important. Although most Japanese say they have no religion, almost all practice Shintoism which teaches the need to honor the spirits in things like mountains, and trees. Shinto shrines dot the landscape. Most Japanese are also Buddhists and think they need to show respect to dead ancestors. Very, very few Japanese believe there is one God who created the world and only one in every three hundred people trusts Jesus. You can learn about Shintoism here.  

What's it Like to Live in Japan?

Since cities in Japan are so crowded, people tend to live in apartment buildings or homes with very small rooms. When entering, you leave your shoes by the door. That helps keep things clean and helps protect the Tatami mats, made of rush grass, which cover some of the floors.

Children start school very young–almost everyone goes to preschool. Most schools require children to wear uniforms and some even require the boys to shave their heads. All schools teach the same material from the same books. Children attend school five and a half days a week; summer break is only six weeks long. And each day after lunch, school children work together to clean the school and maintain the garden. 

Food in Japan

Almost every meal includes rice and tea often along with vegetables, seafood, and fresh fruit. You hold the rice bowl at chest height and eat with chopsticks. For more on food, visit this site.

Miso (a side dish commonly eaten at breakfast)

1 onion 1 cabbage leaf
1/3 cup carrot 2 teaspoons oil
4 cups water 4 heaping teaspoons soybean paste
2 teaspoons tahini  
  1. Dice onion, carrot, and cabbage and saute in oil five minutes.
  2. Add bean paste, water and tahini.
  3. Bring to boil, then simmer 20 to 30 minutes.


A common hand game is called “chopsticks.” Each player starts with his hands out in front and with one finger extended. The player who starts taps one of the other player’s hands who adds the fingers of the two hands that touched and extends that many. So if you had one finger out and were touched by one, you change and put two fingers out. Now it’s your turn to touch an opponent’s hand. If the total is over five, he extends the number equal to the total minus five. If he has to extend all five fingers, that hand is out. The winner is the one with the last hand. On any given turn, you can touch your other hand instead of touching an opponent’s. You then add the fingers out on both hands and split the total evenly between your two hands. You can read about variations here.


Go to this kid’s site to find answers to these questions:

  • What’s the name of Japan’s emperor?
  • A Japanese character is called a kanji. How many does a student learn by the time he finishes middle school?
  • Why does the Japanese flag have a red dot in the middle?

Speak Japanese

Excuse me Sumimasen (soo-me-mah-sen).
Thank you Arigato (ah-ree-gah-toh).

To learn more Japanese, visit this site.

 To learn Japanese gestures, play this game.

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Terri Taylor. © 2024 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org