kids

Disney selling ultra-premium backpacks for Japanese schoolkids exclusively inside its Tokyo parks

A while back, we talked about adult fashionistas, including actress Zooey Deschanel, who’d become smitten with the boxy Japanese backpacks called randoseru. In Japan, though, randoseru are strictly for the prepubescent set, as they’re exclusively used by elementary school students.

That’s not to say that kids don’t appreciate a nice-looking bag, though, which is why Disney is getting in on the randoseru game, with a line of backpacks that can only be purchased inside its Tokyo theme parks, and cost the equivalent of several hundred dollars.

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Japanese teens discover trick to look years younger, may cause back problems 【Video】

People have long sought any invention or procedure that could make them appear younger. From beauty products to invasive surgeries, many will pay mountains of money and undertake any risk for something that promises to shave a few years off their appearance.

A group of teens in Japan has come up with a simple trick that has them looking years younger in an instant, but might not exactly be the panacea you have in mind.

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Conan the Barbarian’s “Wheel of Pain” now available for Japanese toddlers

You might not recognize the name Wheel of Pain, but it’s a TV trope so common you’ve certainly seen it: struggling slaves push a giant capstan around and around under the watchful eye of the slavemaster, who is clearly a capital-b Bad Guy for using such a brutal method of… well, of doing something.

You expect to see the Wheel of Pain in pretty much any historical or fantasy movie with human chattel. You don’t expect to see it in a children’s toy catalog.

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Six Korean babies that will make you go d’awww 【Videos】

Most people agree that cuteness of babies can be matched only by the cuteness of baby animals. And while every country has its share of cute kids, many of the most baby popular videos on the net come from South Korea.

So to celebrate another week all of us have made it to Friday and the weekend, we’ve got a compilation of six adorable Korean cuties that are sure to make you smile.

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Japanese kid too young to see Mad Max stays home, builds awesome Doof Wagon out of Lego instead

Japanese Twitter user @kamonpoi wants to go to see Mad Max: Fury Road, but not as badly as his young son does! The fifth-grader is a die-hard Mad Max fan who is desperate to see the new movie, but was distraught to hear that it would carry an R15+ rating, meaning he has no chance to see it in the cinema.

So instead, the boy put his energy and frustration to good use and did what elementary school kids do best: he made something out of Lego.

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“Gotta catch ’em all, son!” Japanese dad gets game-addicted kid to quit – by making it a chore

You can learn all kinds of things on the internet. How to fix your leaky tap, how to get your baby to go to sleep in five seconds, and now, how to get your kid to step away from the console.

On the Japanese Twitterverse this week we read of one father’s unusual method of getting his son to stop playing video games – by making Pokémon compulsory.

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This little tyke taking on a sumo wrestler is the cutest thing you’ll see today 【Video】

Sumo wrestlers. They’re big, strong, and pretty intimidating. Even though they might be quick to smile and friendlier than your average bear, we definitely would not want to step in the ring with them.

But this little kid doesn’t know the meaning of intimidation! Which is fair, because he’s only four, but it turns out he’s also fearless, and takes on this mountain of a sumo wrestler with the enthusiasm of a hungry wolverine!

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“Papa, read this in the bathroom!” – Daughter’s letter manages to get stranger from there

It must be a proud moment in any parent’s life when his or her children start learning how to write. Still, you can only expect so much in terms of penmanship, clever phrasing, or even actual meaning when a preschooler puts pen (or more likely pencil) to paper.

Nevertheless, this Japanese Twitter user was probably moved when he found out his young daughter had written a letter just for him. He was also probably a little puzzled, though, that she specifically instructed him to read it while in the bathroom, and believe it or not, the story gets weirder from there.

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Studious Nintendo-loving kid asks for a dictionary for his birthday, gets a very special surprise

Imagine you’ve got a nine-year-old kid with a birthday coming up, and you ask him what he wants as a present. At first he says he wants a video game, but then, after giving it some more careful thought, he comes to the conclusion that he’s old enough to be getting serious about his studies, so he asks for a dictionary instead.

How should you react? Proud of his sense of responsibility, do you buy him the dictionary, and hurry him one step closer to the end of his carefree childhood? Or do you get him the game, despite the fact that he specifically asked for something else?

It’s a tricky problem, but one dad in Japan came up with a clever, heartwarming, and above all awesome idea.

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Video of kids reacting to strangers dropping their wallets might restore your faith in humanity

For the most part, Japanese society stresses being considerate and courteous. 99 times out of 100, that makes Japan a great place to live, but in certain situations those virtues can be taken to such extremes they actually end up contrary to their original sentiments. For example, part of being courteous is not bothering others, but as I’ve talked about before, in rare instances that bit of well-meaning deference can get warped into not getting involved in other people’s affairs even when they’re clearly in a quandary.

But while adults sometime stumble while walking the tightrope between forcing unasked for assistance on someone and helping those in need, what about children? That’s the question posed in this video showing a group of kids reacting to a stranger dropping his or her wallet at the bus stop, and the outcome just might restore a bit of your faith in humanity.

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Smoking while walking near kids or wheelchairs? Why not just swing a knife around?

Many cultural guidebooks contend that eating while walking is considered rude in Japan. That’s not entirely accurate. Sure, walking down the street while munching on a hamburger will make you look gluttonous, maybe laughably so, but no one’s going to get offended by your mobile meal.

What will upset some people, though, is smoking while walking, and not just because of the horrible stink and health effects of secondhand smoke. Puffing away while moving down the sidewalk can be downright dangerous to nearby kids and the wheelchair-bound, as this manga artist’s illustration reminds smokers.

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Japanese Fitness expert recommends toddlers play catch, climb on jungle gym, sumo wrestle

Remember when you were a little kid, and your parents would take you to the park to play? Not only were you having fun, you were developing important motor skills as you ran around, did somersaults, and swung on the monkey bars. Maybe when you got a little older and more coordinated, you’d even play catch with your mom and dad.

But did your parents love you enough to have a couple of sumo bouts against you?

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Mama Cards! All the social trickiness of Japanese business cards with none of the economic gains

Japan has a lengthy protocol for the proper way to exchange business cards. There are rules of etiquette that govern how to hand to over your own card, how to respectfully read your counterpart’s, and even how long to wait before putting it away.

Outside of the business world, you might think you’re safe from this troublesome trapping of corporate culture. Recently, though, some mothers in Japan have started making personal name and contact cards to give to other moms they meet through their kids’ school and extracurricular activities, and are discovering that being outside the office doesn’t make things any simpler.

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Is this the coolest kindergarten in the world? Probably 【Pics & Video】

Does the architecture of a building have an effect on the lives of the people inside of it? One famous Japanese architect thinks so and we’re pretty convinced now too.

Takaharu Tezuka, a Tokyo-based architect, designed a revolutionary kindergarten building that not only lets the kids run free, but also teaches them about life.

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Pint-sized string quartet Joyous String does an awesome Smooth Criminal

Tiny, adorable, and blessed with bags of musical talent – meet Joyous String, a four-kid string quartet with musical aptitude way beyond their years. They’ve been playing together since they were just four years old, and have progressed to the point where they can produce a flawless rendition of the Michael Jackson classic “Smooth Criminal” without even breaking a sweat. These are some seriously talented kids!

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Kindergarten class plays Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 better than most adults ever could

Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 5 in D minor at a time of great tension in Soviet Russia. The looming threat of World War II was nothing compared to the Great Purge being conducted by Joseph Stalin in which 1,000 people were executed each day. Shostakovich too felt he was in the crosshairs for his previous “subversive” works.

And so it was something of a musical miracle that his Symphony No. 5 was unanimously well received by both the government and survivors of their brutality alike. Still today conductors and their orchestras struggle to properly capture all of the emotions such as irony, sympathy, and pride that Shostakovich may or may not have intentionally layered in this rich piece.

Taking a crack at it here are the kids of Isesaki Asuka Primary School’s kindergarten class.  To see whether they succeed is up to you, but I think we can all agree that they’re not just good for a kindergarten class – they’re just good.

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Japan’s craziest ad ever? English school commercial as likely to make kids terrified as bilingual

The very first job that brought me to Japan as a gainfully employed adult was teaching at a private English school. While most of our customers were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, we also offered kids’ classes, even for preschool-aged children.

With young learners, the first hurdle to get past was for them to not freak out about talking with someone from a different country. While that might sound horribly racist, there just aren’t that many opportunities to meet people from other cultures in Japan, especially in a child’s daily life, and the first meeting was usually a little intimidating for them (the company policy that didn’t allow foreign staff to speak Japanese in front of the customers probably didn’t help in this regard).

Thankfully, it usually only took a couple of minutes for the kids to see that non-Japanese instructors aren’t terrifying monsters. Unfortunately, this startling commercial for a chain of children’s English schools in Japan only takes 15 seconds to visually imply that, yes, actually, they are.

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Japanese educators call for twice monthly No Video Game Days, recommend kids go fishing

Compared to some other countries, video games enjoy a fairly high standing in Japanese society. Nintendo’s Mario is seen by many as not only a symbol of wholesome fun, but an example of how innovation and craftsmanship can lead to sustained economic prosperity. The world of Final Fantasy isn’t just a great setting for an epic quest, but for lunch or dinner, and some particularly stylish game characters even go on to leave their mark on real-world fashion.

Still, not everyone in Japan is a fan of video gaming. The Hokkaido Board of Education would rather see kids with schoolbooks or fishing poles in their hands than game controllers, and to that end is calling for parents to institute twice monthly No Game Days, and not just for the kids in the family.

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Chinese third-grader’s “fairy tale” is so disturbing it even has adults writhing

The debate over whether or not violence on TV and in video games breeds violence in children is quite a heated issue these days. However, the discussion shouldn’t be confined just to those mediums. Kids are quite impressionable, so they can be just as influenced by the nightly news as by their cartoons.

Netizens in China are blaming TV dramas for tainting the mind of a third-grade girl who wrote a genuinely disturbing story at school. They seem to believe that the smut on TV is exposing kids, like this girl, to topics only suitable for adults (or not even suitable for adults). What’s so bad in this story that it’s causing such an uproar? Find out after the jump.

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Japanese sixth-grader calls out smartphone-loving parents over anti-video game lectures

I understand that an important part of parenting is setting boundaries for children. Until they reach a certain age, kids just don’t have the kind of foresight necessary to fully understand the consequences of all their actions, and letting preteens eat as many cookies as they want or stay up as late as they like probably isn’t the best idea.

That said, another important part of parenting is setting a good example. Fail to do that, and your kids are likely to just tune out everything you’re saying. Actually, that might be the best case scenario, since if you’re flagrantly guilty of not practicing what you preach, your kids might call you out for it, like one Japanese elementary school girl who pointed out her parents’ logical inconsistency in lecturing about keeping her video game playing to a minimum, even as they were glued to their own electronic devices.

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