We had such a great time studying some of the indigenous animals of Japan. It was pretty hard to find the appropriate corresponding animal miniatures, but I did my best. I also created corresponding Montessori inspired 3-part printables for these animals as part of our Japan Unit Study.
Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) – this species of monkey is also known as the “snow monkey” and is native to Japan. They derive their name from their habitat where snow covers the ground for months each year. Amazingly, no other nonhuman primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate. Miniature: I used a miniature found in the Yowie surprise chocolate egg (Kipunji Monkey), and painted it a lighter brown with a pink/red face. You can also buy one here on Amazon.
Sika Deer (Cervus nippon) – is an overabundant species of deer originally native to much of East Asia. Its name comes from shika (鹿), the Japanese word for “deer”, and is one of the few species of deer that does not lose its spots upon reaching maturity. Sika stags have stout, upright antlers with an extra buttress up from the brow tine and a very thick wall. A forward-facing intermediate tine breaks the line to the top, which is usually forked.
Miniature: I used a miniature from “In the woods” TOOB by Safari, Ltd. I added spots with off white paint. You can also buy one here on Amazon.
Wild Tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus) – is commonly referred to as the Japanese raccoon dog. This animal is significant in Japanese folklore since ancient times; the legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absentminded. It is also a common theme in Japanese art, especially statuary. Miniature: I used a miniature from Curious Minds. You can also buy them here at Walmart.
Moon Bear (Ursus thibetanus) – Also known as the Asian Black Bear is a medium-sized bear species native to Asia and largely adapted to arboreal life. It mainly lives on the Honshū and Shikoku islands of Japan. The moon bear is black with a light brown muzzle. They are white on the chin, and have a distinct white patch on the chest, which sometimes has the shape of a V. Miniature: I used a miniature found in the Yowie surprise chocolate egg (Sun Bear – the face is a little different than the Moon Bear). You can also buy one here on Amazon.
Spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi) – a species of marine crab that lives in the waters around Japan. It is the subject of fishery and is considered a delicacy. The Japanese spider crab has the greatest leg span of any arthropod, reaching up to 18 ft from claw to claw. The body may grow to a size of 16 inches, and the whole crab can weigh up to 42 lbs. Miniature: I found a lot of random plastic crabs on eBay, and one of them looked enough like the spider crab.
Green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor) – also known as the Japanese green pheasant, this bird is native to the Japan, and is it’s national bird/fauna. The male has dark green plumage on the breast, neck, mantle, and flanks. The male also has bluish-purplish hood with clear ear-tufts, red wattle, and long, pale grey-banded tail. The female is smaller than the male, with a shorter tail, and has brownish black colored plumage, with dark brown feather fringed pale brown. Miniature: This was a hard one – I found several that could be shipped from Japan, but I didn’t want to pay that much. I happened upon one on eBay, but I haven’t seen one since, so I don’t have a link to share with you.
Elegant Pit Viper (Gloydius blomhoffii) – this venemous snake is one of the most venomous snakes in Japan, biting 2000–3000 people a year.. Bitten victims typically require one week of treatment in a hospital. Severe bites require intensive care, and approximately 10 victims die annually. The average length of mature individuals is 18-32 inches. Their body pattern consists of a pale gray, reddish-brown, or yellow-brown background, overlaid with a series of irregularly-shaped lateral blotches. Miniature: I found a lot of random plastic crabs on eBay, and one of them looked enough like the pit viper.
Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) – this species is one of the most commonly found animals and found not only in Japan, but many other countries around the world. Red foxes are usually together in pairs or small groups consisting of families, such as a mated pair and their young, or a male with several females having kinship ties. The young of the mated pair remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits. They primarily feed on small rodents, though it may also target larger animals such as rabbits, game birds, reptiles, etc.
Miniature: I found a miniature on eBay, but it took awhile to get here. You can also buy it on Amazon here.
I laminated my cards so they would stand up to little fingers.
We talked about each animal, and basic species it was (bird, mammal, reptile, insect, etc). We talked about if it was large or small. My preschooler then matched up the animals with the miniatures. After this we worked on matching the word cards to the animal pictures (I read the word cards to her, since she can’t read yet).
What fun to learn about animals that live in other countries! 🙂