japan gift for a 12 year old
February 13, 2011 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Japan-themed gift for a 12 year old boy. He's interested in anime, video games, and all things Japanese (even though he doesn't really know that much about Japan). A book with lots of photos would be great, but adult ones have too many words, and kids ones have too little real info. This book looks perfect, but it's not releasing until this summer.
posted by Snower to Travel & Transportation around Japan (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Whatever you do, make sure to throw in some Pocky.
posted by kerning at 10:25 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

But Japan is so much more than "The Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony"! It's like calling the US "the land of the cheeseburger."

Why not give a book about the monsters of Japanese folklore? It's more focused, so it doesn't try to reduce an entire country with diverse people and a long history to a handful of cliches that are only ever kind of true on selected days in downtown Tokyo.
posted by Nomyte at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe a kids' book on basic Japanese language, like this one? I'm not personally familiar with this book but the description sounds engaging: "[T]hree friends learn to speak, read and write the basics . . . along with taking breaks to try Japanese hot-spring baths, sumo wrestling, Zen meditation and more. Focusing on exactly what the 9 to 13-year-old learner wants to know, this book is carefully set up to allow them to learn Japanese independently, at their own speed, without an adult's help."
posted by illenion at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2011

Nomyte, I initially had the same concern as you, but the description makes it seem a little more fleshed out than the title alone: "Spotlighting the originality and creativity of the Japanese, debunking myths about them, and answering nagging questions like why they're so fond of robots..." Sure it's still a little essentialist, but it sounds contemporary and has good intention.
posted by illenion at 11:14 AM on February 13, 2011

Hikaru No Go is a series of manga about a kid who learns the game of go (aided by a famous go master ghost attached to his grandfather's go board) and his adventures playing with different people and competing in different tournaments, competing with various rivals -- it's probably perfect for your young friend, and we enjoyed it.

Note: read from the back to the front. I wouldn't bother with the video versions; there's a lot of culture in the books (ancient go culture, modern go parlors, different kinds of schools for kids, etc.).

The game itself is simple in rule set, but of course, enormously complex as you start playing with other people. It might be fun to play with him on a small board, but I wouldn't get him a full-sized game set unless he asks for it.
posted by amtho at 11:17 AM on February 13, 2011

My Japan obsessed youngster enjoyed this gift.
posted by Mr.Me at 11:31 AM on February 13, 2011

J-List has tons of great ideas. A heads-up that some items are NSFW or 12 year olds.
posted by analog at 11:48 AM on February 13, 2011

If he hasn't read One Piece yet, 12 years old would be a great age to do so. Heck, any age is a good age to read One Piece. It's the best selling (literally. It's sold the most copies of any single title) manga in Japan, and in this case, it deserves the readership it's got. And with 61 volumes out so far (in Japanese anyway... I'm not sure how many has come out in English so far), it'll keep him busy for a while!
posted by misozaki at 2:40 PM on February 13, 2011

Star Wars. Sure it'll be subtitled, but you're never too young to be introduced to them, and he'll know the story anyway.
posted by rhizome at 4:48 PM on February 13, 2011

A beginner's book for origami?
posted by ErWenn at 7:39 PM on February 13, 2011

Be sure to include Japanese candy.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:12 PM on February 13, 2011

I was going to recommend Yokai Attack, too. I would absolutely give this to a 12-year-old nephew who liked to read and was interested in Japan. It's cartoony and fun without being patronizing and there aren't many books available in English that duplicate the info (certainly not intended for 12-year-old boys). The same authors also put out Ninja Attack, which I haven't read but which looks like more of the same good stuff.

(Oh, I should probably mention that I know the authors a little and we end up at the same event once or twice a year.)
posted by No-sword at 5:27 AM on February 14, 2011

Tabi (socks) and Laq interlocking-brick toys are what my boys like best of grandpa's souvenirs.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:13 AM on February 14, 2011

I can't remember offhand if Japan Ai has anything questionable for a 12-year-old, but I don't think so. Aimee does a good job of explaining things. I wish there were newer editions of The Anime Companion 1 and 2...
posted by wintersweet at 12:41 PM on February 14, 2011

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