Free Japanese textbooks (for children with Japanese citizenship)

By | May 22, 2019

Many parents living in a country different from where they were born have a desire to teach their children about their home country’s culture and language. There is a plethora of resources online to study foreign languages, but for children often physical books are seen as the best type of media. However, there are not always bookstores that sell books in the desired language, and buying books online can come with heavy shipping fees.

Fortunately, for families living in the U.S. where one or both parents are Japanese citizens, there is a great program to obtain textbooks from Japan. There is some paperwork required, but the main requirement is that the child is a citizen of Japan, and has a Japanese passport.

For more details you can talk to the Japanese consulate (領事館) of your specific state. This site (Japanese) shows the page describing this program in Oregon, including the application form, but it seems that some other states have similar programs.

I’m not sure about all the age groups, but for elementary school children a set of books is available twice a year, and in our first bundle we got a total of five books, including handwriting, math, and even music––almost 400 pages of content. The books are of very high quality with beautiful illustrations, but the best part is they are completely free!

I think these books are probably intended for Japanese children who plan on returning to Japan so that they can keep pace with the school system there. (Such families can be referred to as 海外駐在) But there is no reason children who are staying in the U.S. for longer periods of time can’t take advantage of them.

If you have a child and either you or your partner is a Japanese citizen, you should be able to obtain a Japanese passport for your child, and then use that to obtain the textbooks. We did the passport paperwork in a government office in Japan (役所), but we were told it could be done remotely as well.

Even if one of your children’s parents isn’t a Japanese citizen, you may know another family who can take advantage of this program, and ask them to loan or sell you books when they are done with them.

(Note: featured image of a stack of textbooks is from The actual books are significantly thinner than those in the picture)

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