I Live in Tokyo – by Mari Takabayashi
Seven-year-old Mimiko leads us on a tour of her life in Tokyo, exploring foods, festivals, clothing, and more. The book is organized by months of the year, so we can see the important holidays and events of each month.
My Japan – by Etsuko Watanabe
Another 7-year-old girl guides us through a typical day in her life. While this book is somewhat similar to I Live in Tokyo, it focuses more on the physical details of life — a typical bedroom, two types of toilets, the contents of her backpack, the subway system, what she eats for meals.
Three Samurai Cats – by Eric A. Kimmel
This adaptation of a tale from feudal Japan features a daimyo whose castle is being overrun by a ferocious rat. The daimyo requests help from a local monastery, and is aided by a cat with unorthodox methods. It is a tale of cunning and non-violence, with fun illustrations throughout.
Chibi: A True Story from Japan – by Barbara Brenner and Julia Takaya
A sweet tale that closely resembles Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, but with a setting in modern Japan.
Hokusai: The Man who Painted a Mountain – by Deborah Kogan Ray
This is a lovely biography of one of Japan’s most famous artists. He was born into poverty and orphaned at an early age, yet rose to prominence and defied convention throughout his life. Lovely illustrations, and easy to follow.