Writing, documenting and creating memories through travel scrapbooking in Japan

  1. Introduction
  2. (1) Why should your child create a travel scrapbook?
  3. (2) What kind of materials do you need?
  4. (3) How to get started with writing during the holiday?
  5. (4) What did we collect for our scrapbook?
    1. Tourist Stamps
    2. Paper Collectibles
    3. Purikura + instant photos
  6. Conclusion
    1. Special Mention
      1. Airbnb in Osaka (here)


During our winter trip to Japan this time as a mother of two school-aged children, I paid special attention to, and was intrigued by the print-rich environment surrounding us every day. Colorful billboards with flashing slogans, JR maps dotted with tiny Japanese characters, and the endless supplies of flyers and brochures that line every train station and the entrance of shopping malls… Japan is a country where no time is wasted in conveying important information to travelers/consumers/residents! With bookstores in literally every corner, it is a stationary and craft-lovers paradise that inspired me to try a new writing project with my kids! In this blog, I will document why Japan is an ideal place for creating a travel scrapbook and how we managed to fit in writing time!

(1) Why should your child create a travel scrapbook?

The most compelling reason for creating a travel scrapbook is that it gives children a chance to document their travel, incorporate creativity and keep up with writing during the holiday. Even if there is no time to write, your child can still draw or collect artifacts that remind them of their trip. Travel scrapbooking can be an opportunity to describe the places they’ve visited, share their memorable moments with friends, or elaborate into longer written entries after the holiday. In our case, there were some mornings when my kids only cut and pasted from pamphlets or drew pictures, and there were times at the restaurant table when they labeled and wrote their recounts. Nonetheless, we managed to fit in a bit of scrapbook every day.

(2) What kind of materials do you need?

To start, I brought two gluesticks, pocket sized scissors with covers, and blank notebooks. We used blank sketchbooks because they are thin, lightweight, and easy to carry in backpacks. This is important because we carried our sketchbooks throughout the day as my kids doodled and wrote while waiting for meals to arrive. My kids also decorated the covers with stickers and pictures. I also like the fact that the books are BLANK! Instead of being limited to writing prompts such as “Where did you go today,” kids can write, draw, label and add stickers in an open-ended way.

(3) How to get started with writing during the holiday?

In Hong Kong, we focused on small-moment writing, which allowed my boys to draw pictures in sequence of the events that happened, focusing on the more exciting details. (Blog HERE) This type of writing suited our time in Hong Kong as the main purpose of our trip was to see family and friends. We only took the kids to major attractions a few times. As a result, it was easy to pinpoint some special moments, which we then elaborated into stories.

Fast forward to the second part of the trip to Osaka… Japan is an ideal place for travel scrapbooking, a place that truly inspires writing. There was a myriad of artifacts we collected ….mostly free, some purchased, during our 10 days in Japan! I will share what they are and how they inspired us to write.

(4) What did we collect for our scrapbook?

Tourist Stamps

If you have ever been to Japan, you will notice many tourist attractions have complimentary stamps for visitors to collect. In Osaka, there were stamps at train stations, popular sites like the Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, Legoland and even in Yidobasih Camera, which is an electronic store !

In the 10 days we were in Japan, my kids kept their sketchbooks in their backpacks, and we collected many stamps from different locations. These stamp stations were easy to spot, and there was no queue when lining up for them.

In some stores, such as in Yidobashi Camera, customers can complete a stamp rally encouraging them to collect stamps from specific floors to check out different products. We picked up a stamp rally card close to the entrance and headed to four levels to collect Pokemon stamps. This was a huge hit for Kei, who was eager to collect them all even though there wasn’t any prize to win.

With each stamp collected, Kai and Kei wrote / drew pictures about their visits:

Paper Collectibles

Apart from stamps, we collected many paper items: pamphlets, travel brochures, discount coupons, and flyers readily available in train stations, tourist centers, hotel lobbies and at the entrance of major tourist attractions. Kai and Kei cut out headings, pictures from pamphlets… kept train maps and ticket stubs and filled their scrapbooks with memorabilia, which served decorative and functional purposes.

Purikura + instant photos

Finally, how can I leave out Japanese photo booths! Although photos are just one tap away on our phones , or a swipe away from social media, it was really refreshing to get instantly printed photos which my boys could physically held onto, and glued onto their pages. This was a wonderful addition to my kids’ travel scrapbooks. I was surprised to find photobooths at the zoo, at Legoland, and even up at the snow park near Kobe!


I have always thought holidays are the best time for writing. There are plenty of unstructured time and opportunities for reflection, which are necessary for producing good written work. The holiday is a time when new experiences can spark our imagination. In Japan, learning how to fight like ninjas, admiring the sunfish glide in the aquarium tank, and stepping on the crisp snow with our clunky ski boots … all our memories are captured in the travel scrapbooks that my children created. If you are visiting Japan in the near future, I hope you give this a try!

Special Mention

Airbnb in Osaka (here)

  • Love the location as the home is right next to the supermarket and park, and is close to the train station! We really enjoyed our 10 days here!

Information about my “Science of Reading for Busy Parents” here

Other relevant blog posts:

Published by Ms Claudia L. Kimura

Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2015 Primary school teacher, technology coordinator Not just a regular mom, but a teacher-mom Mom of 2 boys, stepmom of 3 boys

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