Japanese Culture ESL Lesson Plan

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

This lesson is focused on helping students learn about Japanese culture. Students will create hula hoop Venn diagrams to compare Japanese culture to their own culture and make koinobori kites and cards to celebrate Children's Day.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify and describe aspects of Japanese culture
  • compare and contrast Japanese culture and their own culture(s)


1.5-2 hours


  • Map of Japan
  • Picture book about Japanese culture (Suggested titles: My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Japanese Language and Culture by Michelle Haney Brown; I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi; The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb Iijima)
  • Hula hoops
  • Index cards
  • Construction paper
  • String
  • Picture of carp kites

Curriculum Standards


Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


Describing Japanese Culture

  • Show students a map of Japan. Ask students to identify what they know about Japan, such as what people wear, eat, celebrate, etc.
  • Define the word 'culture' for the class, and tell students they will be learning about Japanese culture.
  • Read a picture book about Japanese culture, such as My First Book of Japanese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Japanese Language and Culture, I Live in Tokyo, or The Way We Do It in Japan.
    • Stop periodically to help the students compare life in Japan to their daily lives.
    • Create a list on the board of Japanese words and meanings from the book.
  • After reading the book, have students discuss the following questions:
    • What is culture? What elements can be considered a part of a person's culture?
    • What was one interesting fact you learned about Japanese culture?
    • How is Japanese culture similar to and different from your culture?

Comparing Japanese Culture

  • Divide the class into small groups, and provide each group with index cards and two hula hoops.
  • Have the groups create a hula hoop Venn diagram to compare Japanese culture to their own culture(s).
    • Students should lay the hula hoops on the ground, so the hula hoops overlap each other to form a Venn diagram shape. One side of the diagram will be 'Japanese culture,' while the other side will be the 'students' culture(s).' The middle, where the hula hoops overlap, will represent the similarities between Japanese culture and the students' culture(s).
    • On the index cards, students will write or draw cultural aspects that relate to Japanese culture and/or their culture(s) and place the cards in the correct section of the Venn diagram. For example, students might draw a picture of rice to represent a food of Japanese culture and a picture of tacos to represent a food of their culture and place the index cards on opposite sides of the Venn diagram.
    • When students are finished, have them share and discuss their Venn diagrams with the class.


Use the following activities to help students experience Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi), the Japanese holiday celebrated on May 5th, which honors children and mothers. If Children's Day wasn't discussed in the book you read to the class, discuss it prior to these activities.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account