Japanese education

For those of you who don’t know or are wondering, the girls will be homeschooled while we are away.  Who will be their teacher?  That would be me.  In my previous life, I was an elementary school teacher for 10 years, so hopefully this will go well. Will we have school every day?  How many hours?  Did I bring books?  These are all good questions that people have asked.  I’m not sure how it will go, we will probably not have school every day, and no we didn’t bring books.  I am blazing a new trail each day.  We are working with the internet – thank god for the internet!!  We have a schedule that we are attempting to implement beginning this week, but part of the fun of this year is to learn as we go and use what we have at our disposal.  For instance, the train/subway schedules are in 24 hour time, so the twins have been learning how to figure out what time 13:30 is.  We pay for our train and subway tickets each day with them counting out the money and how to buy the ticket from the machine that is in Japanese.  Not an easy task as it took Dave and I awhile our first few times.  We talk about how many yen is worth a dollar – currently 120.  Thank goodness for apps – we have a great conversion app that the girls use to find out what something costs.  Claire was to read the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr for school this summer and it was the perfect complement to our trip to Japan, so I read it to the twins as well.  It is about a girl who was a baby at the time when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  They are all very interested in the story and can’t wait to visit the memorial to Sadako when we arrive in Hiroshima later this week.  History is a constant lesson on this trip.  And as a complement to that book as well as the culture of Japan, they have been learning origami as their art lesson.  They are all getting really good at making paper cranes, see pictures below.  And seeing how a whole culture lives, eats, dresses, behaves, etc. is a daily lesson we all learn from.

Claire's favorite paper crane

Claire’s favorite paper crane

Lauren's favorite paper crane

Lauren’s favorite paper crane

Grace's favorite paper crane

Grace’s favorite paper crane

The girls have also learned how to write haikus, traditional Japanese poetry.  A haiku consists on 3 lines with 5 syllables in the 1st line, 7 syllables in the 2nd and 5 in the 3rd.  While haikus are historically supposed to be about things in nature,  you can veer off that path.  Below we have shared some of the girls haikus.   I will start you off with my attempt.  For those of you who know me, I love sushi.  Unfortunately, it is not as common as one would think here in Japan.  The food has been amazing, but deep fried tempura and ton katsu, or bowls of warm udon noodles – while delicious – is not what I envisioned every day.  Sushi is what I envisioned.  So, this was my attempt last night at a haiku when of course we didn’t have sushi for dinner.

I want sushi

Why is there no sushi here?

We are in Japan

By: Kelly

This view is pretty

With trees and mountains and more

I could gaze and gaze

By: Claire

Taylor Swift sings songs

Taylor Swift has good music

Went to her concert

By: Grace

Beautiful Japan

See Mt. Fuji through the mist

Cherry blossoms bloom

By: Grace

The Eiffel Tower

Croissants, hot cocoa so good

Beautiful Paris

By: Lauren

Beautiful peaches

Ripe and ready peaches good

Delicious peaches

By: Lauren


  1. Kara · September 2, 2015

    I think you are and girls are getting an MBA this summer in learning. Great job! So happy for you all! XO


  2. Carolyn and Doug · September 2, 2015

    Enjoyed reading your blog this morning. The paper cranes that the girls made are quite beautiful. Their lesson on haiku was amazing. So far I would say that you are following your game plan of teaching the girls as you go along. The lessons that they are learning will hopefully stay with them and they will remember this learning experience. You are all having a learning experience that few people will ever have. Great job


  3. joe mullen · September 2, 2015

    Keeping going Kelly!
    Mr. Joe.


  4. lola · September 2, 2015

    Dear Claire, Lauren, and Gracie, beautiful origami! Looks like they were made of silk. And the haiku…good job! Miss you, Lola


  5. Joan Pieri · September 2, 2015

    I am truly enjoying your info and following you on your trip.


  6. Doreen simonich · September 2, 2015

    Years ago my 6th grade class read the book and ended up making and sending 1000 paper cranes to Japan (can’t remember exactly where) It was quite the project to say the least and all were so involved and touched by the story. All of you get an A on your Haiku poems and don’t worry about the books Kelly your children are learning much more
    Doreen Simonich


  7. Katie · September 4, 2015

    Just ordered Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes for my girls to read! I love reading all of your blog posts! xo


    • dsalonso1 · September 6, 2015

      So glad to hear it. It’s not long, but it’s a good book. And they loved seeing the memorial.


  8. Louie · September 8, 2015

    Dave, very entertaining write-up as always. The Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes book is really famous and inspirational in Japan. One of my wife’s high school students read it and then spent a year folding 1,000 cranes for my wife leading up to our wedding. We keep the cranes encased in a box on our coffee table.


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