Chamarra’s Kids Field Note

The Everyday Life of Ai-chan!


What are kids like in Japan? I have learned a lot during my home stay with the Kimura family. Ai is a seven year old girl in first grade. She is fun, full of energy, and creative. So is she like American children?

Introduction: Ai is a fun kid but is also very busy. She not only studies at school but also outside of school at a place called Kumon where she does extra math studies. Ai-chan is seven years old and is just like a seven year old in America. She is fun, energetic, easy-going, and happy. She likes to play games, and make jokes, and run around. She is involved in a lot of activities yet she never seems to get tired!

When people talk to Ai they may call her Ai-chan. In Japanese, when someone is younger than you it is okay to say their name and add “-chan” at the end. If someone is older than you or same age it is okay to add “-san” after his or her name. There are also many other versions of this as well. In Japanese, your relationship to the person you are talking to is very important in deciding how you will talk to them or what you will call them. At home, I call Ai “Ai-chan,” so when I talk about her I will also call her “Ai-chan.”

After living with her for almost three months now I noticed how similar she is to kids in the U.S. She likes to watch cartoons, read books, play outside, and play with her friends. She is not much different at all! However, her culture is a lot different than American culture so there are many differences in this case!

What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

In the morning, Mrs. Kimura makes everyone vegetable and fruit smoothies and we all drink one in the morning. Ai also eats cereal and bread or sometimes rice and miso soup in the morning. For lunch, Mrs. Kimura packs her an obentou, which is a boxed lunch. In Japan, they have special lunch boxes for their food and it usually has many different foods in it! At dinnertime, we eat something new everyday! We may have rice, miso soup, beans, and chicken or beef. No matter what we eat Ai always goes for her gohan first which is the rice! She loves eating rice and tomatoes. She will usually eat a whole tomato without cutting it or putting it in anything.  

What is your house like?

Ai lives in a twenty-story apartment building in Yokohama right next to the Ishikawacho train station, Chinatown, and Motomachi, a famous shopping area in Yokohama. She lives on the 14th floor in a very nice house that has a beautiful view of the city from the living room. In her house as soon as you walk in you have to take off your shoes and put on your slippers. You cannot wear shoes in the house beyond the foyer. Also, the bathroom does not include the toilet and the shower. In Ai’s house the toilet has a separate room and the shower has a separate room along with the washing machine. The washing machine washes and dries clothing. However, sometimes Mrs. Kimura hang dries the clothes in a separate room next to the balcony. In this room there is drying racks and a machine that dries the clothes. Usually Ai does her homework at the dining room table and afterwards will watch her favorite cartoons on the television. 

What chores do you have at home?:

Sometimes she cleans the bath.

What jobs do your parents have?

Ai’s mother takes care of the house. She cooks and does the shopping for the house and gets Ai ready for school everyday. She also takes Ai to her after school activities such as tennis, gymnastics, and piano. Sometimes she volunteers at a hospital for a whole day. Ai’s father works for Toyota and takes long business trips to Nagoya. Sometimes he goes for three days! He comes home very tired and after catching up on sleep he will hang out with Ai and the family. Sometimes he leaves around six o’clock in the morning and gets home around eleven at night. He is very busy but he always spends time with Ai on the weekends. 

What time does school start, and what time do you go home?

Ai leaves for school around 7:15 AM. She walks to school and it takes her about 15 minutes. She has to wear a blue uniform dress with a yellow hat when she walks. She goes to an international school so there are Japanese children as well as children from other countries. She gets home around 2:30 PM and then goes to her after school activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

How do you get to school? Are you allowed to go to school by yourself?

She walks to school everyday and usually goes with a group of children. In Japan, many students walk together in groups. They pick one another up at their houses and may hold hands when walking down the street if they are very young. The neighborhood watches the children to make sure they get to school and back safely. 

Where do you eat lunch? What is your favorite food?

At school when she has a break she eats at home. Bread, tomato

What language do you speak at school? How do you say “Hello” in your language?

At school, Ai speaks only in Japanese. All of her classes are in Japanese, but she learns English on her own outside of school. In Japanese “Hello” is konnichiwa

What are some common kids’ names at your school?:

Shiori, Kaho are some common first names

What subjects do you study in school, and which one is your favorite?music, gym, Japanese, mathematics, life, art, Catholic religion, library. Her favorite is library class. She likes to read.

What is your homework like?

School, Kumon, challenge homework. She has a lot of homework but it is easy.

What do you like to do after school? Do you have a favorite sport or game?

After school Ai does gymnastics, tennis, and plays piano on the weekends. She also does Kumon, which is extra practice with subjects like math. During her free time she likes to draw. She also likes to watch anime shows and read books. 

Who is your favorite famous person?

She does not have any favorite famous people but her mom is her favorite person.

What kinds of music do you listen to?

Disney Music. She loves listening to it during dinner.

What would you like to be when you grow up?

Ai wants to be a manga writer. Manga writers draw anime characters and create stories for their characters. Manga is very popular in Japan and also in the U.S. In the U.S. shows like “Naruto” have manga books as well. 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Hawaii. She has gone there before and she really likes it.

What do you know or think about the United States?

In the United States they speak English. The money is in dollar. In America the car steering wheel is on the left in Japan it is on the right.

What questions do you have for kids in the United States?

In Japan, Japanese babies cannot speak Japanese well. Can American babies speak English well?

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