International

Japan Gets Own Version of ‘Sesame Street’

By Rhea R. Borja — October 26, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Hoping to reach a new generation of children, a Japanese version of “Sesame Street” debuted Oct. 10 on NHK Tokyo, one of the Asian country’s major broadcasting companies.

The new half-hour show is co-produced in Tokyo and New York City, the headquarters of the Sesame Workshop, the creator of “Sesame Street,” which airs in countries around the world. (“Venerable U.S. Children’s Show Reaches Around Globe,” Oct. 2, 2002.)

The Japanese show focuses on nature, with lessons on imagination, independent thinking, and financial literacy. Each show also features a three-minute English-language lesson.

Japan now has its own version of Sesame Street.

In contrast, the American “Sesame Street” seeks to reach urban children to teach them basic math and reading skills.

“In Japan, there’s not the same kind of disparity in wealth, so we don’t have to teach Japanese children their letters and numbers,” said Karen Fowler, the creative director of Japanese “Sesame Street.”

The show has four new characters: Teena, a pigtailed, outgoing little girl; Mojabo, a “big kid who’s a little bit of a tough guy, but a real softie inside,” said Ms. Fowler; Pierre, a frog; and Arthur, a little bird who speaks in the Japanese Kansai dialect. The last two are a comedic duo modeled on a Japanese form of comedy called “Mansai,” Ms. Fowler said.

For about 20 years, the American show aired in Japan in English and was used mainly as an English-language-learning tool by high schoolers and adults.

But it wasn’t reaching the show’s target audience of 4- to 8-year olds. So the Sesame Workshop began dubbing the American show in Japanese about five years ago. That turned off Japanese viewers, however, Ms. Fowler said, and viewership declined. Talks to create a Japanese “Sesame Street” began soon after.

Coverage of cultural understanding and international issues in education is supported in part by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

Coverage of cultural understanding and international issues in education is supported in part by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

International Global Test Finds Digital Divide Reflected in Math, Science Scores
New data from the 2019 Trends in International Math and Science Study show teachers and students lack digital access and support.
3 min read
Image of data.
iStock/Getty
International Pre-COVID Learning Inequities Were Already Large Around the World
A new international benchmarking highlights gaps in training for digital learning and other supports that could deepen the challenge for low-income schools during the pandemic.
4 min read
International Part of Global Trend, 1 in 3 U.S. High Schoolers Felt Disconnected From School Before Pandemic
UNESCO's annual report on global education progress finds countries need to make more effort to include marginalized students, particularly in the United States.
4 min read
International How Schools in Other Countries Have Reopened
Ideas from Australia, Denmark, and Taiwan can help American district and school leaders as they shape their reopening plans.
11 min read
Students at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan, perform The Little Mermaid in full costume and masks.
Students at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan, perform The Little Mermaid in full costume and masks.
Photo courtesy of Dustin Rhoades/Taipei American School