Bilingual Education with Anpanman! Japanese Toy Review 日本のおもちゃを使って英語で遊ぼう♡

img_7183Anpanman is arguably the most popular character for babies and young children in Japan.

He is a super hero whose head is made of Anpan, bread filled with sweet red bean paste. He can help people regain strength by feeding them bread from his head…

Anpanman is huge in Japan, there are TV series, movies, toys for babies and children, video games, arcade games, clothes, stuffed toys, kids plates and cutlery, snacks, curry, pasta…

You name it and there is probably an Anpanman product of it.

My son, who hadn’t even had Anpanman toys until recently is already crazy about him, he always points to his face in the shops, recognizes his name, and we have a feeling he has already said “Anpanman”!

I think it’s his big smiling face that makes him so appealing to children.

In Anpanman’s world there are a variety of characters,

His enemy, Baikinman (Mould Man), his little sister Melon Panna (Melon Bread), Akachan Man (Baby Man) who gains strength by drinking milk, Dokin chan who is Baikin Man’s girlfriend.

There are also Curry Pan Man, Shoku Pan Man (White Bread Man), Cheese the Dog, and many many more!









Seán got an Anpanman balloon recently, and loved it, but as always happens eventually, it deflated.

So we decided to buy him a new Anpanman toy and review it! We wanted to see if it worked as an educational tool. Since we are living in Japan, and Seán will be most likely attending all Japanese schools in future, I have to try hard to expose him to as much English as possible.

The toy we chose from babies ‘r’ us is the Anpanman Twirling Rolling Tower. It comes with colorful balls to roll down the spiral tower, and plays fun music including the Anpanman theme song.

We use the toy to teach him colors and “give me”.

English is becoming more and mire important in Japan , with the Olympics in Tokyo and World Expo in Osaka coming up in the near future.

Elementary schools are starting English education from an earlier age, and making it more of a priority in the curriculum. When I taught elementary school, the class was “foreign language activity” , which was great to introduce kids to other languages and cultures, but now it will be a proper school subject. Which is great too. Just hopefully it won’t become like Junior High and High school “rote learning” English which leaves a lot to be desired!

People are interested in starting kids off early learning English.

Sean can already understand many English and Japanese words! So I strongly believe that it’s important to foster a bilingual brain from a young age. Babies really take everything in and learn at a fast pace.

Sean loves his new toy and he’s doing a great job looking at the colors and following instructions, so I give the toy my seal of approval 👍🏻

2019: A new blog, and the KonMari effect.

Hello! Dia Dhuit! (Hello in Gaeilge, Irish)

My name is Lian.


Book, Dog, Coffee, Sweets- lover.

Wife of a kind, super- organized minimalist Japanese hubby.

Mum of a little dinosaur, 10 months old, called Seán Isami.

Living in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, home of Mt. Fuji, fragrant green tea fields and Chibi Maruko-Chan.

Writing the first sentence of a brand new shiny blog feels strange.

I’m sitting at my personal computer (Do people say this in English? I’m not sure, maybe it’s ‘Japanglish’ which I have been using increasingly in the past while). My laptop.

My husband and son (Seán, just turned 10 months old) are taking a nap. I am going to seize this rare opportunity to do something productive.

I have been mulling over starting a blog since I came to Japan (8 years ago, hohoho) but never got around to it. I am that kind of person. But, for some reason, today is the day I do it. It’s my New Year’s Resolution, a month and two weeks late.

My other resolution is to get organized, having read Marie Kondo’s book “The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (Cue a surprised giggle/snort of disbelief from my Mum). I will openly admit to my unorganized nature. It is something about myself that I hate, also my tendency to worry too much. MArie Kondo is a Japanese woman who came up with a method, the KonMari method, of getting your life/head in order through decluttering, reducing your possesions by throwing away/donating the things that don’t spark joy in your heart. The book promises to change your life. I think it has worked for me thus far (read the book last week and have started implementing her methods. I’ll come back to this later. Or maybe not.

When I was a teenager, I kind of got the ‘Japan bug’, not from anime or manga (though I am a big Studio Ghibli Fan), but from reading a book called ‘Across The Nightingale Floor’ by an author called Lian Hearn.

Sidenote: I absolutely love to read, something I haven’t had much time to do recently.

Admittedly, the initial reason I picked up this particular book was that the author had the same name, with the same spelling, as me. I had NEVER met or heard of, anyone with my name! The spelling is really unusual, it is usually ‘Leanne’, ‘Lee-ann’ or some variation.

But the book fascinated me. It is a fantasy novel (acutally a trilogy) set in a fictional land with strong echoes of Japan’s feudal era, and focuses on the adventures of a hero with a strange power.

Here is the blurb (From “A land of incomparable beauty torn by civil war. An ancient tradition undermined by spies and assassins. A society of rigid castes and codes subverted by love. “

I fell in love with the story, the characters and the setting. The idea of the Nightingale Floor ( A wooden floor in a castle that ‘sings’ like a nightingale when walked on to alert the inhabitants of an intruder) was so intrigung to me. As was the beautiful imagery of the Japanese landscape, conveyed so beautifully by Hearn. I hadn’t been as enraptured with a book series since The Lord of The Rings.

The fact that this fantasy setting was based on Japan made me determined to visit someday. I watched some Japanese movies and dramas, and found that I loved the language, too.

I don’t want this first blog post to become long- winded, so I may stop here for now!

Anyway, I applied for the JET Programme in my last year of University ( where I studied Neuroscience) and was offered a place in Shizuoka Prefecture. From then, with Mt. Fuji and green tea fields as a backdrop, my life in Japan started. And the rest is history (or for another blog post).

By the way, I was blown away when I got to walk on an actual nightingale floor in Kyoto! They really exist.

Happy New Year!

And as they (we?) say in Japan, ‘Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu’ (Please treat me well/ Let’s have a good relationship).

I hope you find something interesting/ worth reading in my blog!


Lian xx

Seán’s first Sakura!