The Way We Do It in Japan

The Way We Do It in Japan

4.3 3
by Geneva Cobb Iijima

Gregory and his family are moving to Japan for his dad's job. After the long flight, they arrive at their new apartment. Gregory is surprised to find lots of things that are different: but that's the way they do it in Japan.


Gregory and his family are moving to Japan for his dad's job. After the long flight, they arrive at their new apartment. Gregory is surprised to find lots of things that are different: but that's the way they do it in Japan.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
When Gregory's dad's company sends him and the family to Japan, Gregory finds many things strange, but "That's the way we do it in Japan" is the answer to many of his questions. He learns about the language, the food, the money, the furniture, the baths and more. It is in his new school that he finds himself most uncomfortable. When the other kids bring him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, however, he finally feels welcome. The rather didactic story is enlivened by clear, somewhat humorous painted and colored pencil drawings. The focus is on the humans, but there are enough details to make a base for the lessons. If only all such transitions to a new country went as well! Notes and pronunciation keys are included. 2002, Albert Whitman, $14.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz AGES: 4 5 6 7 8
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Gregory lives in California with his parents. Suddenly his Japanese-born father announces that he is being transferred to Tokyo and they will be leaving shortly. They pack up and move and Gregory learns that the language, money, food, and traffic flow are all different. Every time he remarks on the strangeness of things, his father says, "That's the way we do it in Japan." The child has the usual fears about going to a new school, understanding the work, and making friends. He feels out of place with his peanut-butter sandwich when everyone else eats the school-supplied fish, rice, and soup. He dislikes the idea of fish, but on the day he decides to try it, they are serving PB & J sandwiches and the children announce, "Amerikawa sugoi" (America is wonderful). Large, colorful illustrations with realistically drawn children add to the appeal of the story. However, some of the "way we do it-" elements are a bit stereotypical of the traditional way of Japanese life. Contemporary children of Gregory's age mostly now sleep in beds and sit at tables, but that does not detract from this story, which tries to emphasize cultural differences while including social similarities. This friendly story of acceptance in a new situation will also serve as a good introduction to children learning about this culture.-Nancy A. Gifford, Schenectady County Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A well-intentioned but wooden story of a young boy who, with his American mother and Japanese father, is transplanted from the US to Japan. Gregory's father is sent to live in Japan by his business. Gregory's very enthusiastic about the move (indeed, strangely so, considering the magnitude of the change), yet he quickly learns that Japan is a quite different place: new-and not necessarily yummy-foods and schoolmates with whom he doesn't even share a language. And what a language: as explained in an appendix, there are three kinds of writing in the Japanese language and children learn all three. Little of this new life is presented with much verve-and the artwork, while interesting as set pieces, is decidedly wan; for either Gregory's sake or the reader's, it is just plopped in his lap. These are zabutons (a number of Japanese words are introduced, along with their pronunciation), this is a Japanese tub, Japanese children help keep their school clean, Japanese children have rice and fish for lunch, and Gregory feels conspicuous with his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Gregory is neither cowed by his new environment, nor much energized by it. It is doubtless lifelike that Gregory spends most of his time simply trying to maintain his balance, though it doesn't make for compelling reading. Even the surprise lunch the school throws for Gregory has a pathetic feel to it, as if learning how they do it in Japan is going to be a long row to hoe for Gregory. (Picture book. 5-9)

Product Details

Whitman, Albert & Company
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File size:
18 MB
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Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

In the early 1970s, Geneva Cobb Iijima, her husband and three small children lived in Japan, absorbing the culture. They delighted in being near her husband’s family and learning about this part of the family heritage. Their experiences there were partially the inspiration for The Way We Do It in Japan. Geneva and her husband live in Oregon. They have four grown children and six grandchildren.


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