Tag Archives: Japan

The Best Countries for Women & Girls

Photo courtesy of DoSomething.org

Happy 101st International Women’s Day!

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing some news about women from around the world.

The British newspaper, The Independent, reviewed data from around the world to evaluate how women are faring.

Studies show that by focusing on education for women in developing countries and providing them with the means to support themselves and their families, the rates of poverty and child mortality decrease dramatically.

Working together, we can create a world where every child has access to a quality education, health care, and enjoys their human rights and liberties.

Politics

In Rwanda, women hold 45 out of 80 parliamentary seats. This is the only country in the world where there are more women than men at this level of political prominence. Belize, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have no female members of parliament.

Photo courtesy: AlmostAllTheTruth.com

Business & Work Place

Thailand has the most women managers in the work place in the world. Forty-five percent of senior managers in Thailand are women. In the US, only 20 percent of women hold senior management positions. In Japan, only 8 percent of senior management jobs are held by women.

In Jamaica, almost 60 percent of the high-skilled jobs are held by women.

Life Expectancy

Japanese women have the longest life expectancy in the world – 87 years.

Sports

The United States is the best place in the world to be a female athlete. Five out of the ten best-paid female athletes in the world are from the US. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has never sent a woman to the Olympics.

Literacy

Lesotho has the best female literacy rate compared to the men’s rate in the world. Ninety-five percent of women in Lesotho can read and write. Only 83 percent of the men in Lesotho can read and write.

Best Overall

Taking political participation, education, health, and employment statistics into account, Iceland has been named the best country in the world for women.

In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s do our best to encourage and inspire the girls and young women in our lives so that we can make every country the best country on earth for them.

To read the entire report, click here.

For more facts about the status of women and girls around the world, check out DoSomething.org’s website and Almostallthetruth.com.

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Filed under Africa, Caribbean, Europe, Holiday, Latin America, Learn, Middle East, North America

Superstitions Around the World

At Halloween, it’s fun to explore the things we don’t understand and examine the steps we take to control the things that just can’t be controlled. For example:

When you spill salt, do you throw a pinch over your left shoulder for good luck?

Do you believe black cats are unlucky?

Do you think that if you break a mirror, you’ll have bad luck for seven years?

Do you avoid the number 13?

These are all superstitions with which most Americans are familiar.

Even if we don’t believe in them, we pass this information on to our children because it’s part of our collective cultural heritage. We feel they should be aware of these beliefs.

But what other superstitions do people believe around the world? How are they different? Here’s a brief look at superstitions around the world to help you understand other cultures.

The Spooky Numbers 4 and 17

In Japan, it’s the number 4, not 13, that makes hearts race. In Italy, it’s the number 17. In these cultures, many hotels and hospitals avoid using these numbers to prevent their guests and patients from unnecessary pessimism. Of course, these buildings still have fourth and seventeenth floors, they just aren’t listed as such.

The Broken Dish

In the Netherlands, a broken dish is believed to bring bad luck in much the same way a broken mirror does.

More About Cats

In the Netherlands, private matters should not be discussed when a cat is in the room. People believe that cats are untrustworthy and spread gossip.

Tuesday

Tuesdays hold a special place in superstition. Tuesday the 13th is considered a particularly bad-luck day in many cultures in much the same way that Friday the 13th is bad luck to many Americans. In India, you cannot get a hair cut on Tuesdays because it’s believed to bring bad luck.

Bad Dreams

In Romania, if you dream about dark water or that you are carrying a newborn baby in your arms, you can expect bad luck. In China, dreaming about teeth or snow means that your parents have died.

More About Mirrors

If you thought breaking a mirror was bad, then you definitely do not want to place a mirror anywhere near the foot of your bed. If you do, Italians believe it permits the devil to watch you sleep. And if you wake up in the night and catch a glimpse of your reflection in that mirror, it means that evil owns you.

Watch Out For the Evil Eye

Many cultures believe in the evil eye which brings big-time bad luck. In Guatemala, parents can protect their children from the evil eye by dressing the kids in red; even a red bracelet will help.

Don’t Get Swept Away

In Venezuela, some people believe that if someone pushes a broom over your feet while they are sweeping, they also sweep away your chances of ever getting married. In many parts of Africa, you are never supposed to sweep your house at night. It is believed that you will sweep your good luck away.

Respect the Moon

In China, if you point to the moon with your finger the tips of your ears will fall off.

Whether or not you’re superstitious, it’s good to be aware – and respectful – of other people’s beliefs. When you visit people in their homes or travel to different countries, you need to respect these beliefs in order to be a considerate guest.

 

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Talking to Kids About Japan

kids watching TVIt’s been just over a month since a devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis first rocked Japan.

Since that time:

  • More than 188,000 people continue to be displaced;
  • More than 125,000 blankets; 183,000 items of clothing; 26,000 relief kits and 11,000 sleeping kits have been handed out to survivors staying in Red Cross evacuation centers.
  • Several aftershocks as well as significant tremors have struck;
  • Scientists, workers, and government officials continue to deal with a nuclear crisis that is now judged to be equal to the Chernobyl disaster;
  • Millions of dollars – including donations from schoolchildren around the world – have been pledged by individuals and organizations to help the people of Japan deal with the crisis;
  • The American Red Cross has collected more than $158 million for Japan relief. The Japanese Red Cross has collected more than $800 million and is beginning to disburse some of those funds to affected people this week; and
  • The first 36 of 70,000 temporary homes were presented to displaced families in Iwata prefecture.

Because there is still so much bad news mingling with the good work people are doing to help the victims of the multiple disasters in Japan, it can be difficult for children to cope with the situation.

Even thousands of miles away, children can be profoundly affected by the news.

Because this crisis is ongoing, it can be even more difficult for children to deal with how they are feeling.

Download KidCulture’s free PDF, Tips for Talking to Children About Global Crises, to help you talk with children about the crisis in Japan and identify strategies to help them feel more secure.

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to help children deal with bad news and scary situations is to give them something over which they have control.

Whether it’s holding a bake sale, lemonade stand, or yard sale with the intention of donating the proceeds to the Red Cross or another Japan relief organization, every child can make a difference. And that helps give them the confidence they’ll need to deal with crises when they get older.

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Cherry Blossom Festival Unites Japan, USA

DC cherry blossomsOn March 27, 1912, American First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, planted the first two Japanese cherry blossom trees near Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin.

Mrs. Taft was an excellent advocate for bringing the Japanese cherry trees to Washington. For three years, she lived with her husband and children in the Philippines while her husband served as the Governor-General of the Philippine islands. She was considered remarkable at the time because she welcomed the opportunity to learn about the language and culture of the Philippines and to befriend the Filipino people.

In addition, Mrs. Taft enjoyed traveling to Japan and China and she brought a respect and appreciation for other cultures to the White House when her husband was elected in 1908.

Ninety-nine years after the two ladies planted the first cherry blossom trees, visitors to Washington still enjoy them, as well as the 3,000 others that subsequently joined them.

This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival is being conducted while the original givers of this beautiful gift – the people of Japan – are struggling with unbelievable challenges and tragedies.

More than two weeks after an earthquake and a tsunami changed life for people of Japan and set off a nuclear crisis in their country, many Americans are using the National Cherry Blossom Festival to reinvigorate American donations to help the people of Japan.

For more information about the history of the cherry trees in Washington, DC, check out the National Park Service’s website.

More information about the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 26-April 10, click here.

The American Red Cross is one of the best options for donating funds to help the people of Japan.

 

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In the News: Japan

Japanese earthquake and tsunamiThe earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on Friday, March 11 has also led to a crisis with several nuclear reactors in that country.

The news has been full of videos, first-person accounts, and statistics about the situation and children are understandably upset and concerned.

One of the best things parents can do in these circumstances is to turn the TV off. Repeatedly watching the same footage can give children the impression that an event is happening over and over again.

At the same time, it is important to talk to children about what they have seen and heard. They may have questions about what is going on – and whether or not it will affect them, their family, and their friends.

Try to reassure your child that you are prepared for an emergency should it arise close to home. Involve your child in a discussion of what you would do in an emergency. Go over your family plan in cases of an emergency such as a fire, flood, or storm. If you don’t have a family plan, consider creating one.

Enlist their ideas about things you can do to feel more secure. They may suggest storing fresh water and non-perishable food items for your family in case of an emergency.

Talk about ways your family can help the victims of these disasters in Japan. You may want to donate money through the Red Cross or another relief organization. You may have friends or family with connections to Japan who can offer other suggestions. It may help your children to pray for the Japanese people in these difficult times.

It’s understandable to want to shield our children from the sad things in life. But if we talk to them and help them find ways to cope with how they feel we’re actually helping our children become more resilient – and therefore better able to cope with the challenges that life often presents.

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Exploring Japanese Food

Most people immediately think of sushi when they think of Japanese restaurants, or even hibachi restaurants. If you’ve been there, tried that, consider choosing something new next time you’re in a Japanese restaurant.

I admit that one of my proudest moments as a mother and amateur chef was the day my son tried sushi for the first time. Still, I understand that sushi is not everyone’s idea of a good time. So if you’re eager to introduce your child to new foods, start with something simple.

For example, gyoza are delicious Japanese dumplings that are often served with raw, diced vegetables.

Noodles are usually a big hit with kids. If your children are adept at spaghetti, try them on soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat flour and served either in a soup or with a dipping sauce on the side. Be careful – the dipping sauce can be spicy.

Udon noodles are wheat-flour noodles that are usually served in a soup paired with tofu, shrimp, and vegetables.

Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong. Japanese food is thought to be among the healthiest in the world. Just watch out for the tempura.

 

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Food, Family, and Chinese New Year

There are few better – or cheaper – ways to introduce your child to other cultures than through food.

With so many great ethnic restaurants, it’s easy for parents to get children accustomed to foods from different countries from an early age.

However, parents may be unsure of what to order that’s kid-friendly.

In honor of Chinese New Year, which runs February 3-15, over the next few days KidCulture will provide some suggestions to help parents choose food in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants.

In each of these countries, people celebrate Chinese New Year by sharing good food with their families and friends – and that’s a custom worth adopting.

So stay tuned for some fresh, fun, food ideas to help you introduce your child to other cultures.

 

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Miso Soup

Miso SoupOne of my favorite soups is served at a restaurant in Morrisville, PA called Concerto Fusion.

It’s a totally yummy spicy seafood miso soup that for some reason only appears on the takeout menu.

I order it every time I’m there, but that’s just not enough for me.

While I try to figure out how they make this fantastic soup, I’ve also been playing around with a more standard version of miso soup.

Now I get that some people are scared off by the double threat of tofu and seaweed but you’ve got to give this soup a chance.

Once you do, I guarantee you’ll be back for more!

Miso Soup

1 package extra-firm tofu

1 c. shitake mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons miso paste

1 18 oz container of vegetable stock

¼ c. green onions (2 stalks)

Gently press as much excess water as possible out of the tofu using paper towels.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil over high heat, add mushrooms, cover and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 2-4 minutes.

Add the soy sauce and miso paste, bring soup back to a boil.

While the soup cooks, slice the tofu into small pieces, less than ½ inch square.

Add the tofu to the soup, cover and reduce heat.  Cook for 3 minutes.

Garnish with sliced green onions and serve.

 

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Eat Some Grapes, Have a Laugh

In Spain and Portugal, people celebrate the new year by eating twelve grapes at midnight to encourage 12 happy months in the New Year.

In Japan, people let loose with a laugh at midnight to bring good luck to them and their families.

Each of these practices sounds so fun and charming; it’s a sure bet your family will feel the same way.

In addition, think of other things you can do at midnight to encourage a great outcome in 2011.

For example, if – like most people – you have financial concerns, consider playing Monopoly with your family on New Year’s Eve. Or dedicate a new piggy bank to help you keep track of loose change or remind you to make saving a habit.

If you feel like you and your family have been too stressed out over the past year, watch a bunch of laugh-out-loud, family friendly films to remind you to enjoy the moment.

If you’re dreaming of fun trips to exotic locales, encourage everyone in the family to dress up as if they were leaving on a vacation to their favorite spot. You might be surprised to see who is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and who’s got ski pants on!

Whatever you choose, you’re sending a message to yourself and your family that the new year can be everything you hope for.

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Art and Haiku By Children

I thought this was a really neat website, Children’s Haiku Garden.

It shares poems and artwork by children and it seems like the kind of thing that would be really helpful in motivating your child to be creative.

I especially like the fact that the poetry is written by one child and the artwork done by another. It’s a great way to foster teamwork without competition.

This poem, in particular, caught my eye. The haiku and the accompanying artwork are both by 9 year old children from Japan.

the shining sea

seagulls turn round and round

a big catch!


Verse: Kazuoki Yamada

Picture: Mika Shibazaki

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