The Way We Do It in Japan

Gregory lives in California with his parents. Suddenly his Japanese-born father announces that he is being transferred to Tokyo and they will be leaving shortly. They pack up and move and Gregory learns that the language, money, food, and traffic flow are all different. Every time he remarks on the strangeness of things, his father says, "That’s the way we do it in Japan." The child has the usual fears about going to a new school, understanding the work, and making friends. He feels out of place with his peanut-butter sandwich when everyone else eats the school-supplied fish, rice, and soup. He dislikes the idea of fish, but on the day he decides to try it, they are serving PB & J sandwiches and the children announce, "Amerikawa sugoi" (America is wonderful). Large, colorful illustrations with realistically drawn children add to the appeal of the story. (
Year of Publication
Average: 5 (2 votes)


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The Way We Do It In Japan , written by Geneva Cobb IIiima and illustrated by Page Bilin-Frye, published in 2002

Field of Interest/Specialty: Asian Studies
Posted On: 01/09/2019

I teach 6th grade social studies, but most of my students are on a 3rd grade reading level so this was great. this story about Gregory and his family lived in California and his father gets a transfer to Japan. The Way we do it in Japan discusses, packing, traveling, food, money and other differences that Gregory will need to get use to in his new home in Japan. It gave my students information about how children live in Japan. This story captured their interest and and we practiced the pronunciation of the Japanese words together. It lead to a discussion of Japanese schools, and how difficult it can be to move to a new location and school. I used this an an introduction to our unit on Japan

Review of The Way We Do It In Japan

Field of Interest/Specialty: Elementary Education/ ESL
Posted On: 01/10/2017

Pedro A. Tosado
Asia Seminar-Fall, 2016-2017
Book Review:
Book Title: The Way We DO It IN Japan
Written by Geneva Cobb Iijima
Illustrated by Paige Billin- Frye
This Realistic Fiction story was extremely connected with the Second Language Learners in my classroom. It incorporates an abundance of vocabulary to assist the students of other languages the necessary background of sight words needed to begin reading English literature. I was so amazed with the illustrations on each page of the story. Visuals are so important and a valuable tool to enhance the learning of a language. The story gives detail information of how Gregory, the little boy in the story, experiences a new way of life when he and his family moves to Japan. The students were able to locate on our wall map the geographical location of Japan and its capital, Tokyo. I emphasized on the order of events in the story to introduce the plot in our writing pieces when we incorporated writing as an activity during our lesson for the day. The story brings an understanding of how it is like to move from one country to another. My third grade second language learners clearly related to the whole culture process. For example, the climate change, the style of living, the school regulations and policies. They were able to make connections with uniforms in schools, the different types of food we eat, and most importantly, the language. I was able to create an abundance of activities to connect with the story. One being bringing in the “realia” to lessons. I cooked Japanese rice and brought it in, and students were able to experience not only eating and tasting the Japanese rice, but also how to eat it with chopsticks just like the Japanese people eat it. I also had them take off their shoes to demonstrate that this is how the Japanese culture do in order to keep their floors clean. The students were able to demonstrate what it feels like sleeping on the floor, sitting and kneeling on “zabuton” while eating and visiting. I also “voice-recorded” on tape/CD this story so that students can use it at our listening workstation. It was so evident see how fun it was to have the students do all these fun things while at the same time, learning so much about the Japanese culture. I would highly recommend using this story with your classrooms, especially with Second Language Learners!
Pedro A. Tosado, ESL Instructor
Central Elementary School, Allentown School District