Sesame Street - Big Bird In Japan

This DVD can help kids to become acquainted to Japan. The introduction of Japanese culture, and how Japanese citizen live is wonderful. The music is also very good.
Year Released
Running Time
60 minutes
Sesame Street
ISBN Number
Average: 5 (2 votes)


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Sesame Street- Big Bird in Japan

Field of Interest/Specialty: Music
Posted On: 11/13/2019

My name is Danielle Coleman. I teach elementary music grades pre-k through fifth at Nitro Elementary School. In full Sesame Street style students are able to watch Big Bird explore Japan in Big Bird in Japan. Big Bird’s journey begins with him and Barkley getting lost in Tokyo, and with the help of new friends Big Bird visits different places in Japan including restaurants, modern houses, even a temple before he and Barkley finally head back home safe and sound. While watching, the students are exposed to Japanese food, customs, architecture, music, folk stories, and language. Students are even able to learn Japanese words and phrases by singing along with the video. Children will enjoy watching Big Bird try to make friends in the Japanese elementary school where he learns about origami and watches children act out the Japanese folk story, The Bamboo Princess. I enjoyed the attention to detail in comparing Big Bird’s American culture to Japanese culture. Students will like comparing the two coulombs listed in the credits. One column is written in English and the second is written in Japanese. This video provides infinite possibilities for integration of any classroom. Of course, it could be used to expose children to Japan and its culture. Where students could try food, music, and clothing discussed in the video. However, it could also be used to discuss immigration and create empathy towards immigrant students. I highly recommend this video to any elementary aged student.

Love Big Bird in Japan!

Field of Interest/Specialty: Japan / Japanese
Posted On: 01/10/2016

Reviewed by Bridget Beaver, North Carolina Virtual Public School
Big Bird in Japan is a fantastic way to introduce learners to Japanese language and culture. Big Bird and his dog friend Barkley travel to Tokyo and get left behind by their tour group. Distressed and needing to find a way to Kyoto to catch up with their tour, they encounter a mysterious Japanese acquaintance. As she guides them on their way to Kyoto, Big Bird and Barkley make some new friends along the way, including a Japanese family and some schoolchildren. They also learn some very basic Japanese language, and about culture and customs of this new and sometimes confusing country!
There are so many great instances in this movie where Big Bird has “fundamental attribution errors” to many things in Japan and its culture. These are really errors that anyone, unfamiliar with Japan, its language, customs, or culture, could make upon their first visit. For example, when he’s lost in Tokyo, people keep saying “ohaoyou” (good morning, hello) as a greeting, but Big Bird attributes this word as to mean the person is from Ohio! As a Japanese language teacher, I seriously got a kick out of that small piece of wordplay, that I am sure anyone learning Japanese with an English language background, might be able to appreciate.
Another instance that demonstrates this is when Big Bird visits the restaurant in Tokyo, and stands outside looking at the plastic food in the window. This type of plastic food is very common in Japanese restaurants, offering customers a glimpse of what the menu and portion sizes look like, as well as a type of advertisement for what kind of dishes they offer. However, this being unknown to Big Bird, he insists on having the dish from the window. The server brings him and Barkley the plastic items, to demonstrate that they are, in fact, inedible. Big Bird and Barkley quickly realize their faux-pas (pun fully intended!) and the server quickly brings them the actual, edible food to eat.
Besides these vignettes that not only teach culture, but also carry the story along, there are some delightful songs scattered throughout the program. The song sung by Big Bird and the Japanese children during his visit with the Japanese family, “1 2 3 is ichi ni san,” is by far the most instructional, demonstrating some very basic greetings (hello, goodbye, thank you) and definitely something I would use when teaching a novice level language class. It’s also adorable!
Finally, without giving away any spoilers, Big Bird and Barkley visit an elementary school. There, the students demonstrate how to do origami, a fantastic activity that can be accomplished in many different content areas (such as geometry or art). The students also act out “the tale of the shining bamboo princess,” a traditional Japanese folktale that ties into the overarching story of Big Bird’s visit to Japan.
I loved, loved, LOVED this video and I hope that if you are teaching about Japan to learners who know little to nothing about it, that you’d share this video with them. I would show it to children, teenagers, or adult learners. There are so many lessons that can be learned!