The Best Children’s Books About Japan

“What are the best Children’s books about or set in Japan?” We looked at 203 of the top Kids Japan books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 26 titles, all appearing on 2 or more “Best Japanese Kids” book lists, are ranked below by how many lists they appear on. The remaining 175+ titles, as well as the lists we used are in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!

Top 26 Best Children’s Books About Or Set In Japan

26 .) Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko written by Misuzu Kaneko

Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Pragmatic Mom

In early-1900s Japan, Misuzu Kaneko grew from a precocious bookworm to an instantly-beloved children’s poet, but her life ended prematurely and her work was largely forgotten. Decades later, her poems were rediscovered just in time to touch a new generation devastated by the tsunami of 2011. This volume includes a biography of Kaneko followed by a selection of her poems in both English and the original Japanese.…

25 .) Baseball Saved Us written by Ken Mochizuki

Baseball Saved Us

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Pragmatic Mom

A Japanese American boy learns to play baseball when he and his family are forced to live in an internment camp during World War II, and his ability to play helps him after the war is over.

24 .) Count Your Way Through Japan written by James Haskins

Count Your Way Through Japan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Starts At Eight

Presents the numbers one to ten in Japanese, using each number to introduce concepts about Japan and its culture.

23 .) Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Pragmatic Mom

In this beautifully written picture book, Hana Hashimoto has signed up to play her violin at her school’s talent show. The trouble is, she’s only a beginner, and she’s had only three lessons. Her brothers insist she isn’t good enough. “It’s a talent show, Hana,” they tell her. “You’ll be a disaster!” Hana remembers how wonderfully her talented grandfather, or Ojiichan, played his violin when she was visiting him in Japan. So, just like Ojiichan, Hana practices every day. She is determined to play her best. When Hana’s confidence wavers on the night of the show, however, she begins to wonder if her brothers were right. But then Hana surprises everyone once it’s her turn to perform — even herself!

22 .) Hiromi’s Hands written by Lynne Barasch

Hiromi's Hands

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Pragmatic Mom

A biography of Hiromi Suzuki, a Japanese American girl who, with her father’s guidance, defies tradition and trains to become a sushi chef at her family’s restaurant in New York City

21 .) K Is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet written by Gloria Whelan

K Is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Kids Travel Books

Introduces children to the culture, history, traditions, beliefs, and practices of Japan and its people, with topic poems and expository text covering one item for each letter of the alphabet.

20 .) Kamishibai Man written by Allen Say

Kamishibai Man

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor
  • The Barefoot Mommy

After many years of retirement, an old Kamishibai man–a Japanese street performer who tells stories and sells candies–decides to make his rounds once more even though such entertainment declined after the advent of television.

19 .) Look What Came from Japan written by Miles Harvey

Look What Came from Japan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 1
  • Kids Travel Books

Describes many things which originated in Japan, including inventions, art, food, fashion, furniture, toys, animals, musical instruments, and sports.

18 .) One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue written by Takayuki Ishii

One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue

Lists It Appears On:

  • Japan Visitor
  • Pragmatic Mom

Ten years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Sadako Sasaki died as a result of the Atomic Bomb disease. Sadako’s determination to fold one thousand paper cranes, symbolizing her hope for peace, and her courageous struggle with her illness inspired her classmates. After her death, they started a national campaign to build the Children’s Peace Statue in memory of Sadako and the many other children who were victims of the bombing of Hiroshima.…

17 .) Suki’s Kimono written by Chieri Uegaki

Suki’s Kimono

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kids Travel Books
  • Pragmatic Mom

On her first day of first grade, despite the objections of her older sisters, Suki chooses to wear her beloved Japanese kimono to school because it holds special memories of her grandmother’s visit last summer.

16 .) Sumo Boy written by Hirotaka Nakagawa

Sumo Boy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Japan Visitor

Sumo Boy saves a girl from a bully using real sumo wrestling moves.

15 .) Tea With Milk written by Allen Say

Tea With Milk

Lists It Appears On:

  • Pragmatic Mom
  • Starts At Eight

After growing up near San Francisco, a young Japanese woman returns with her parents to their native Japan, but she feels foreign and out of place.

14 .) The Last Kappa of Old Japan: A Magical Journey of Two Friends written by Sunny Seki

The Last Kappa of Old Japan: A Magical Journey of Two Friends

Lists It Appears On:

  • All Done Monkey
  • Pragmatic Mom

In 1860s Japan, young Norihei saves the life of a kappa, one of the mythological beings who keep the water clean, and the two become friends, but changes brought by the Industrial Revolution force the kappa to leave, only to return when Norihei needs him most. Includes historical and cultural notes.…

13 .) The Sound of Silence written by Katrina Goldsaito and Julie Kuo

The Sound of Silence

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • The Barefoot Mommy

Yoshio delights in the everyday sounds of Tokyo, but when a musician tells him that her favorite sound is ma, the Japanese word for silence, Yoshio sets out to hear this sound for himself among the hustle and bustle of the city. Includes information on the Japanese concept of ma.…

12 .) Wabi Sabi written by Mark Reibstein and Ed Young

Wabi Sabi

Lists It Appears On:

  • Read Brightly
  • The Barefoot Mommy

Wabi Sabi, a cat living in the city of Kyoto, learns about the Japanese concept of beauty through simplicity as she asks various animals she meets about the meaning of her name.

11 .) Yoko’s Paper Cranes written by Rosemary Wells

Yoko’s Paper Cranes

Lists It Appears On:

  • All Done Monkey
  • Pragmatic Mom

When Yoko moves from Japan to California, she decides to make and send origami swans to her grandmother for her birthday.

10 .) All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More written by Willamarie Moore

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More

Lists It Appears On:

  • All Done Monkey
  • Kids Travel Books
  • Starts At Eight

Contains illustrated stories, songs, recipes, and instructions for crafts and activities to introduce children to Japanese history and culture.

9 .) Japanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri: A Year of Seasonal Japanese Festivities written by Setsu Broderick

Japanese Traditions: Rice Cakes, Cherry Blossoms and Matsuri: A Year of Seasonal Japanese Festivities

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 1
  • Kids Travel Books
  • Starts At Eight

Examines Japanese culture and family.

8 .) My Awesome Japan Adventure written by Rebecca Otowa

My Awesome Japan Adventure

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Kids Travel Books
  • Starts At Eight

Ever heard of micro sushi? Have you played karuta before? Neither did I, until I spent four months in Japan living with a Japanese family. Dan, the narrator of My Awesome Japan Adventure, is a typical American fifth grader, who spends four months with a Japanese family as an exchange student. Although he initially finds it difficult to adjust, Dan is soon having fun wherever he goes–and recording all of his adventures in a diary. With the help of his Japanese foster brother and sister, Daisuke and Mari, Dan visits a Ninja village, tries new foods, learns brush painting, and shares the inside scoop on Japanese school life. Readers of all ages will love experiencing life in Japan from a kid’s point of view! Dan’s adventures include: My First Week of School Visiting a Ninja Village Fun with Origami Practicing Aikido Making Mochi And much more…

7 .) My Japan written by Etsuko Watanabe

My Japan

Lists It Appears On:

  • All Done Monkey
  • Goodreads 1
  • Kids Travel Books

7-year-old Yumi shows what his life is like in the suburbs of Tokyo.

6 .) Once Upon A Time in Japan written by Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK

Once Upon A Time in Japan

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Japan Visitor
  • Starts At Eight

These 8 Japanese folktales are illustrated by some of the best artists in Japan.

5 .) The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story written by Sandra Moore

The Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Pragmatic Mom
  • Starts At Eight

This true children’s story is told by a little bonsai tree, called Miyajima, that lived with the same family in the Japanese city of Hiroshima for more than 300 years before being donated to the National Arboretum in Washington DC in 1976 as a gesture of friendship between America and Japan to celebrate the American Bicentennial

4 .) The Way We Do It In Japan written by Geneva Cobb Iijima

The Way We Do It In Japan

Lists It Appears On:

  • All Done Monkey
  • Kids Travel Books
  • Starts At Eight

Gregory experiences a new way of life when he moves to Japan with his American mother and his Japanese father.

3 .) Tokyo Friends written by Betty Reynolds

Tokyo Friends

Lists It Appears On:

  • Goodreads 2
  • Kids Travel Books
  • Pragmatic Mom

Labeled pictures and the story of an American girl living in Tokyo introduce the names of everyday objects in Japanese, romanized Japanese, and English, as well as the differences between American and Japanese customs.

2 .) Guri and Gura written by Rieko Nakagawa

Guri and Gura

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book Riot
  • Fluent U
  • Goodreads 2
  • Japan Visitor

Two rats find a large egg in the forest and decide to make a cake, and animals in the forest gather one after another following its sweet aroma.

1 .) I Live in Tokyo written by Mari Takabayashi

I Live in Tokyo

Lists It Appears On:

  • Kids Travel Books
  • Pragmatic Mom
  • Starts At Eight
  • The Barefoot Mommy

Seven-year-old Mimiko shows the reader what Tokyo is like, then Japanese festivals from each month are depicted.

The 175+ Additional Best Kids Books About Japan

# Books Authors Lists
27 (Amulet series) Supernova   Pragmatic Mom
A Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family’s Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp
  Pragmatic Mom
29 A Jar of Dreams   Pragmatic Mom
30 A Pair of Red Clogs Masako Matsuno Goodreads 2
31 A Place Where Sunflowers Grow   Pragmatic Mom
A Thousand Cranes: Origami Projects for Peace and Happiness
  Pragmatic Mom
33 Aki and the Fox Akiko Hayashi Goodreads 2
34 Alvin Ho   Pragmatic Mom
35 An Illustrated History of Japan   Pragmatic Mom
36 Anna in Charge Yoriko Tsutsui Goodreads 2
37 Anna’s Special Present Yoriko Tsutsui Goodreads 2
38 Anno’s Math Games Mitsumasa Anno Goodreads 2
39 Art of Japan: Wood-Block Color Prints Carol Finley Goodreads 1
40 Basho and the Fox Tim J. Myers Goodreads 2
41 Basho and the River Stones Tim J. Myers Goodreads 2
42 Bee-bim Bop   Read Brightly
Cherry Blossoms in Twilight: Memories of a Japanese Girl
  Japan Visitor
44 Children’s books Japan:   Kids Travel Books
45 Chuumon no Ooi Ryouri-Ten  
Asian language School
46 Clementine   Pragmatic Mom
47 Colors of Japan   Starts At Eight
48 Crow Boy   Starts At Eight
49 Daruma Doll Book   Pragmatic Mom
50 Dear Juno   Read Brightly
51 Dim Sum for Everyone!   Read Brightly
52 Dodsworth in Tokyo Tim Egan Goodreads 2
53 Dust of Eden   Pragmatic Mom
54 Easy Origami   Kids Travel Books
55 Eiko Kadano (1985)  
Asian language School
56 Emily’s Balloon Komako Sakai Goodreads 2
57 Erika-San   Starts At Eight
58 Finding Little Sister   Japan Visitor
59 Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family’s Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp Katie Yamasaki Goodreads 2
Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #3: The Japanese Ninja Surprise
  Kids Travel Books
61 Flying the Dragon   Pragmatic Mom
62 Folktales Of Okinawa   Kids Travel Books
63 Four-Four-Two   Pragmatic Mom
64 Fred Korematsu Speaks Up   Pragmatic Mom
65 Fred Korematsu: All American Hero   Pragmatic Mom
66 Gaijin: American Prisoner of War   Pragmatic Mom
67 Grandfather’s Journey   Starts At Eight
68 Grapes of Wrath   Pragmatic Mom
69 Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog   Japan Visitor
70 Heart of a Samurai   Pragmatic Mom
71 Hiro’s Quest series   Pragmatic Mom
72 Hiroko Reijou  
Asian language School
73 Hiroshima No Pika Toshi Maruki Goodreads 2
74 Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of Cars Mark Weston Goodreads 2
75 Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji   Read Brightly
76 I Am An American   Pragmatic Mom
77 Ichiro   Read Brightly
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
  Read Brightly
79 Issun Boshi: The One-Inch Boy Icinori Goodreads 2
It’s Cool to Learn About Countries: Japan
  Kids Travel Books
81 Japan   Kids Travel Books
82 Japan ABCs   All Done Monkey
83 Japan the Land Bobbie Kalman Goodreads 1
84 Japan Travel Tips   Kids Travel Books
Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars!
  Kids Travel Books
86 Japanese Nursery Rhymes   Japan Visitor
Japanese Phrase Book (Eyewitness Travel Guide)
  Starts At Eight
88 Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen   Pragmatic Mom
89 Jet Black and the Ninja Wind   Pragmatic Mom
90 Juri-chan Journeys to Okinawa   Kids Travel Books
Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven, Japan 1858
  Kids Travel Books
92 Kenji Miyazawa (1992)  
Asian language School
93 Kids Meet Japan   Kids Travel Books
94 Kimi-tachi wa Dou Ikiru Ka  
Asian language School
95 Kintaro, The Nature Boy   Japan Visitor
96 Kira-Kira   Pragmatic Mom
97 Kiri no Mukou no Fushigina Machi  
Asian language School
98 Lady Kaguya’s Secret: A Japanese Tale Jirina Marton Goodreads 1
Learning about Japan (links around the web)
  Kids Travel Books
100 Let’s Learn About Japan   Kids Travel Books
101 Let’s Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary   Kids Travel Books
Life as a Samurai: An Interactive History Adventure
  Kids Travel Books
103 Life in Old Japan Coloring Book   Starts At Eight
104 Little Daruma and Little Tengu   Fluent U
105 Madogiwa no Totto-chan  
Asian language School
106 Majo no Takkyuubin  
Asian language School
107 Manjiro: The Boy Who Risked His Life for Two Countries Emily Arnold McCully Goodreads 2
108 Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto   All Done Monkey
109 Miki Mongoose a Great Adventure   Kids Travel Books
Miki Mongoose And The Boy From Itoman
  Kids Travel Books
Miki Mongoose and the Wildcat from Iriomote
  Kids Travel Books
112 Miki’s First Errand Yoriko Tsutsui Goodreads 2
113 Moonshadow: The Rise of the Ninja   Pragmatic Mom
More Great #OwnVoices Japanese American Children’s Books
  Pragmatic Mom
My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book
  Kids Travel Books
116 My Grandfather’s Journey   Pragmatic Mom
117 Natsu no Niwa  
Asian language School
118 Neil Flambé and the Tokyo Treasure   Kids Travel Books
119 Of Nightingales That Weep   Pragmatic Mom
120 Ojiichan’s Gift Chieri Uegaki Goodreads 2
121 Once upon a Time in Ghostly Japan   Kids Travel Books
122 Once Upon a Time in Japan 2   Japan Visitor
123 Once upon a Time in Jolly Japan   Kids Travel Books
124 One Stormy Night   Book Riot
Origami Activities For Kids: Discover the Magic of Japanese Paper Folding, Learn to Fold Your Own Origami Models (Includes 8 Folding Papers)
  Japan Visitor
126 Paper Wishes   Pragmatic Mom
127 Peanuts It’s Tokyo, Charlie Brown   Kids Travel Books
128 Pizza Day   Pragmatic Mom
Pup Adventures Around the World: The Secret Journey to Tokyo
  Kids Travel Books
130 Ramona   Pragmatic Mom
Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp
  Pragmatic Mom
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story
  Pragmatic Mom
133 Sadako Eleanor Coerr and Ed Young
The Barefoot Mommy
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
  Pragmatic Mom
135 Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms Robert Paul Weston Goodreads 2
136 Samurai Kids   Pragmatic Mom
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune
  Pragmatic Mom
138 Separate is Never Equal   Pragmatic Mom
139 Shin’s Tricycle Tatsuharu Kodama Goodreads 2
140 Shirokuma-chan’s Pancakes   Fluent U
141 Show-and-Tell   All Done Monkey
142 Singing Shijimi Clams   Japan Visitor
143 So Far From the Sea   Pragmatic Mom
144 Stellaluna   Book Riot
145 Sunday in Kyoto   Kids Travel Books
146 Sushi for Kids: A Children’s Introduction to Japan’s Favorite Food Kaoru Ono Goodreads 2
147 Sylvia and Aki   Pragmatic Mom
148 T is for Tokyo   Kids Travel Books
149 Takako and the Great Typhoon   Kids Travel Books
150 Ten Oni Drummers Matthew Gollub Goodreads 2
151 Tetsuko Kuroyanagi (1981)  
Asian language School
152 The Beckoning Cat Koko Nishizuka and Rosanne Litzinger
The Barefoot Mommy
153 The Bee and the Dream: A Japanese Tale Jan Freeman Long Goodreads 2
154 The Boy from the Dragon Palace   All Done Monkey
155 The Bracelet   Pragmatic Mom
156 The Crane Wife Sumiko Yagawa Goodreads 2
157 The Falling Flowers   Japan Visitor
158 The Favorite Daughter Allen Say Goodreads 2
159 The Furry-Legged Teapot Tim J. Myers Goodreads 2
160 The Girl with the White Flag   Kids Travel Books
161 The Great Wall of Lucy Wu   Read Brightly
162 The Inch-High Samurai   Japan Visitor
163 The Inker’s Shadow Allen Say Goodreads 2
164 The Inn-Keepers Apprentice   Pragmatic Mom
The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp
  Pragmatic Mom
166 The Kaiketsu Zorori Series   Fluent U
167 The Last Cherry Blossom   Pragmatic Mom
168 The Loyal Cat Lensey Namioka Goodreads 2
169 The Mystery at Mt. Fuji: Tokyo, Japan   Kids Travel Books
170 The Name Jar   Read Brightly
171 The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai François Place Goodreads 2
172 The Restaurant of Many Orders Kenji Miyazawa Goodreads 2
173 The Snow Day Komako Sakai Goodreads 2
174 The Story Of Yuriwaka: A Japanese Odyssey Erik Haugaard Goodreads 1
The Tiny Traveler: Japan: A Book of Nature
  Kids Travel Books
176 The Utsukushii Suugaku Series   Fluent U
177 The Way Home in the Night Akiko Miyakoshi Goodreads 2
178 The Whale that Fell in Love with a Submarine Akiyuki Nosaka Goodreads 2
179 The Year of the Dog   Read Brightly
Thea Stilton and the Cherry Blossom Adventure
  Kids Travel Books
181 There’s a Hippo in My Bath Kyoko Matsuoka Goodreads 2
182 Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II Story Marc Tyler Nobleman Goodreads 2
183 Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan   All Done Monkey
Tokyo Pop-Up Book: A Comic Adventure with Neko the Cat – A Manga Tour of Tokyo’s most Famous Sights – from Asakusa to Mt. Fuji
  Japan Visitor
185 Traditional Crafts from Japan Florence Temko Goodreads 1
186 Umbrella   Pragmatic Mom
187 Une nouvelle maison pour la famille Souris Kazuo Iwamura Goodreads 2
188 Waka Okami wa Shougakusei!  
Asian language School
189 Weedflower   Pragmatic Mom
190 Where Are My Books   Pragmatic Mom
191 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon   Read Brightly
192 White Crane   Pragmatic Mom
Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind
  Pragmatic Mom
194 Write Your Own Haiku For Kids   Japan Visitor
195 Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity Sarah Suzuki Goodreads 2
196 Yoko   Read Brightly
Yoko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village
  Pragmatic Mom
198 Yoshino Genzaburou (1937)  
Asian language School
199 You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Samurai!   Kids Travel Books
200 Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village – Bilingual English and Japanese Text Sunny Seki Goodreads 2
201 Yumoto Kazumi (1992)  
Asian language School
202 Zen Shorts   Read Brightly
203 おふろやさん Shigeo Nishimura Goodreads 2

12 Best Children’s Japan Book Sources/Lists

Source Article
All Done Monkey Japan Children’s Books for Your Young Adventurers
Asian language School Recommended Best-selling Japanese Children’s Books
Book Riot Japanese Picture Books That Defined My Childhood
Fluent U The Essential Guide to Learning Japanese with Children’s Picture Books
Goodreads 1 Popular Children Books Japan Shelf
Goodreads 2 Popular Japan Related Picture Books Shelf
Japan Visitor Japan Children’s Books
Kids Travel Books Children’s books set in Japan
Pragmatic Mom Best #OwnVoices Japanese American Books for Kids & Teens
Read Brightly 13 Books for Kids that Celebrate All Things Asian
Starts At Eight Children’s Books About Japan
The Barefoot Mommy Learn about Japan: Kids’ Activities and Books

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