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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

27(Amulet series) Supernova Pragmatic Mom
A Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family’s Experience in a Japanese American Internment Camp
 Pragmatic Mom
29A Jar of Dreams Pragmatic Mom
30A Pair of Red ClogsMasako MatsunoGoodreads 2
31A Place Where Sunflowers Grow Pragmatic Mom
A Thousand Cranes: Origami Projects for Peace and Happiness
 Pragmatic Mom
33Aki and the FoxAkiko HayashiGoodreads 2
34Alvin Ho Pragmatic Mom
35An Illustrated History of Japan Pragmatic Mom
36Anna in ChargeYoriko TsutsuiGoodreads 2
37Anna’s Special PresentYoriko TsutsuiGoodreads 2
38Anno’s Math GamesMitsumasa AnnoGoodreads 2
39Art of Japan: Wood-Block Color PrintsCarol FinleyGoodreads 1
40Basho and the FoxTim J. MyersGoodreads 2
41Basho and the River StonesTim J. MyersGoodreads 2
42Bee-bim Bop Read Brightly
Cherry Blossoms in Twilight: Memories of a Japanese Girl
 Japan Visitor
44Children’s books Japan: Kids Travel Books
45Chuumon no Ooi Ryouri-Ten 
Asian language School
46Clementine Pragmatic Mom
47Colors of Japan Starts At Eight
48Crow Boy Starts At Eight
49Daruma Doll Book Pragmatic Mom
50Dear Juno Read Brightly
51Dim Sum for Everyone! Read Brightly
52Dodsworth in TokyoTim EganGoodreads 2
53Dust of Eden Pragmatic Mom
54Easy Origami Kids Travel Books
55Eiko Kadano (1985) 
Asian language School
56Emily’s BalloonKomako SakaiGoodreads 2
57Erika-San Starts At Eight
58Finding Little Sister Japan Visitor
59Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family’s Experience in a Japanese American Internment CampKatie YamasakiGoodreads 2
Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures #3: The Japanese Ninja Surprise
 Kids Travel Books
61Flying the Dragon Pragmatic Mom
62Folktales Of Okinawa Kids Travel Books
63Four-Four-Two Pragmatic Mom
64Fred Korematsu Speaks Up Pragmatic Mom
65Fred Korematsu: All American Hero Pragmatic Mom
66Gaijin: American Prisoner of War Pragmatic Mom
67Grandfather’s Journey Starts At Eight
68Grapes of Wrath Pragmatic Mom
69Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog Japan Visitor
70Heart of a Samurai Pragmatic Mom
71Hiro’s Quest series Pragmatic Mom
72Hiroko Reijou 
Asian language School
73Hiroshima No PikaToshi MarukiGoodreads 2
74Honda: The Boy Who Dreamed of CarsMark WestonGoodreads 2
75Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji Read Brightly
76I Am An American Pragmatic Mom
77Ichiro Read Brightly
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
 Read Brightly
79Issun Boshi: The One-Inch BoyIcinoriGoodreads 2
It’s Cool to Learn About Countries: Japan
 Kids Travel Books
81Japan Kids Travel Books
82Japan ABCs All Done Monkey
83Japan the LandBobbie KalmanGoodreads 1
84Japan Travel Tips Kids Travel Books
Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars!
 Kids Travel Books
86Japanese Nursery Rhymes Japan Visitor
Japanese Phrase Book (Eyewitness Travel Guide)
 Starts At Eight
88Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen Pragmatic Mom
89Jet Black and the Ninja Wind Pragmatic Mom
90Juri-chan Journeys to Okinawa Kids Travel Books
Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven, Japan 1858
 Kids Travel Books
92Kenji Miyazawa (1992) 
Asian language School
93Kids Meet Japan Kids Travel Books
94Kimi-tachi wa Dou Ikiru Ka 
Asian language School
95Kintaro, The Nature Boy Japan Visitor
96Kira-Kira Pragmatic Mom
97Kiri no Mukou no Fushigina Machi 
Asian language School
98Lady Kaguya’s Secret: A Japanese TaleJirina MartonGoodreads 1
Learning about Japan (links around the web)
 Kids Travel Books
100Let’s Learn About Japan Kids Travel Books
101Let’s Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary Kids Travel Books
Life as a Samurai: An Interactive History Adventure
 Kids Travel Books
103Life in Old Japan Coloring Book Starts At Eight
104Little Daruma and Little Tengu Fluent U
105Madogiwa no Totto-chan 
Asian language School
106Majo no Takkyuubin 
Asian language School
107Manjiro: The Boy Who Risked His Life for Two CountriesEmily Arnold McCullyGoodreads 2
108Megumi’s First Trip to Kyoto All Done Monkey
109Miki 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
112Miki’s First ErrandYoriko TsutsuiGoodreads 2
113Moonshadow: 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
116My Grandfather’s Journey Pragmatic Mom
117Natsu no Niwa 
Asian language School
118Neil Flambé and the Tokyo Treasure Kids Travel Books
119Of Nightingales That Weep Pragmatic Mom
120Ojiichan’s GiftChieri UegakiGoodreads 2
121Once upon a Time in Ghostly Japan Kids Travel Books
122Once Upon a Time in Japan 2 Japan Visitor
123Once upon a Time in Jolly Japan Kids Travel Books
124One 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
126Paper Wishes Pragmatic Mom
127Peanuts It’s Tokyo, Charlie Brown Kids Travel Books
128Pizza Day Pragmatic Mom
Pup Adventures Around the World: The Secret Journey to Tokyo
 Kids Travel Books
130Ramona Pragmatic Mom
Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp
 Pragmatic Mom
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story
 Pragmatic Mom
133SadakoEleanor Coerr and Ed Young
The Barefoot Mommy
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
 Pragmatic Mom
135Sakura’s Cherry BlossomsRobert Paul WestonGoodreads 2
136Samurai Kids Pragmatic Mom
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune
 Pragmatic Mom
138Separate is Never Equal Pragmatic Mom
139Shin’s TricycleTatsuharu KodamaGoodreads 2
140Shirokuma-chan’s Pancakes Fluent U
141Show-and-Tell All Done Monkey
142Singing Shijimi Clams Japan Visitor
143So Far From the Sea Pragmatic Mom
144Stellaluna Book Riot
145Sunday in Kyoto Kids Travel Books
146Sushi for Kids: A Children’s Introduction to Japan’s Favorite FoodKaoru OnoGoodreads 2
147Sylvia and Aki Pragmatic Mom
148T is for Tokyo Kids Travel Books
149Takako and the Great Typhoon Kids Travel Books
150Ten Oni DrummersMatthew GollubGoodreads 2
151Tetsuko Kuroyanagi (1981) 
Asian language School
152The Beckoning CatKoko Nishizuka and Rosanne Litzinger
The Barefoot Mommy
153The Bee and the Dream: A Japanese TaleJan Freeman LongGoodreads 2
154The Boy from the Dragon Palace All Done Monkey
155The Bracelet Pragmatic Mom
156The Crane WifeSumiko YagawaGoodreads 2
157The Falling Flowers Japan Visitor
158The Favorite DaughterAllen SayGoodreads 2
159The Furry-Legged TeapotTim J. MyersGoodreads 2
160The Girl with the White Flag Kids Travel Books
161The Great Wall of Lucy Wu Read Brightly
162The Inch-High Samurai Japan Visitor
163The Inker’s ShadowAllen SayGoodreads 2
164The Inn-Keepers Apprentice Pragmatic Mom
The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp
 Pragmatic Mom
166The Kaiketsu Zorori Series Fluent U
167The Last Cherry Blossom Pragmatic Mom
168The Loyal CatLensey NamiokaGoodreads 2
169The Mystery at Mt. Fuji: Tokyo, Japan Kids Travel Books
170The Name Jar Read Brightly
171The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of HokusaiFrançois PlaceGoodreads 2
172The Restaurant of Many OrdersKenji MiyazawaGoodreads 2
173The Snow DayKomako SakaiGoodreads 2
174The Story Of Yuriwaka: A Japanese OdysseyErik HaugaardGoodreads 1
The Tiny Traveler: Japan: A Book of Nature
 Kids Travel Books
176The Utsukushii Suugaku Series Fluent U
177The Way Home in the NightAkiko MiyakoshiGoodreads 2
178The Whale that Fell in Love with a SubmarineAkiyuki NosakaGoodreads 2
179The Year of the Dog Read Brightly
Thea Stilton and the Cherry Blossom Adventure
 Kids Travel Books
181There’s a Hippo in My BathKyoko MatsuokaGoodreads 2
182Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot’s World War II StoryMarc Tyler NoblemanGoodreads 2
183Three 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
185Traditional Crafts from JapanFlorence TemkoGoodreads 1
186Umbrella Pragmatic Mom
187Une nouvelle maison pour la famille SourisKazuo IwamuraGoodreads 2
188Waka Okami wa Shougakusei! 
Asian language School
189Weedflower Pragmatic Mom
190Where Are My Books Pragmatic Mom
191Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Read Brightly
192White Crane Pragmatic Mom
Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind
 Pragmatic Mom
194Write Your Own Haiku For Kids Japan Visitor
195Yayoi Kusama: From Here to InfinitySarah SuzukiGoodreads 2
196Yoko Read Brightly
Yoko-Chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village
 Pragmatic Mom
198Yoshino Genzaburou (1937) 
Asian language School
199You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Samurai! Kids Travel Books
200Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll: The Adventures of a Blind Japanese Girl Who Saves Her Village – Bilingual English and Japanese TextSunny SekiGoodreads 2
201Yumoto Kazumi (1992) 
Asian language School
202Zen Shorts Read Brightly
203おふろやさんShigeo NishimuraGoodreads 2

12 Best Children’s Japan Book Sources/Lists

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