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Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  21,363 ratings  ·  2,130 reviews
This engaging series of childhood recollections tells about an ideal school in Tokyo during World War II that combined learning with fun, freedom, and love. This unusual school had old railroad cars for classrooms, and it was run by an extraordinary man--its founder and headmaster, Sosaku Kobayashi--who was a firm believer in freedom of expression and activity.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published May 15th 1996 by Kodansha (first published 1981)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Madogiwa no Totto-chan = Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi
Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window is a children's book written by Japanese television personality and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The book was published originally as "Madogiwa no Totto-chan" in 1981, and became an instant bestseller in Japan. The book is about the values of the unconventional education that Kuroyanagi received at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school founded by
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window was written by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, a Japanese actress, who wrote this memoir based on her childhood experience at Tomoe Gakuen primary school, before World War II.

Totto-chan, who was labeled as a troublemaker by her teacher, was forced to leave school. Her anxious mother then took her to Tomoe Gakuen, a school ran by headmaster Mr. Kobayashi, who had utterly different views on schooling than the other educators of his time. He was an educator who
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I believe books can do magic. They can hypnotize you, they can make you laugh, they can even break your heart or they can take you to a journey you may have never dreamt of! Yeah, books are magic!

And this book of Totto chan is the greatest magic I have come across recently. I don’t think only five stars can truly express my feelings for this book!

Totto Chan, a first grader, Japanese girl lived in a world of her own. She loved to talk, loved to make new friends and always has a heap of questions
Shuhan Rizwan
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got this as a present from a Totto-chan look alike.
Had a sheer delightful read.
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: my sister,my friends
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled upon an important book the other day.

I probably found it because K is next to J and when I’m in a used bookstore, I always look for Tove Jansson books.

On this day at Retold Tales I noticed a little book called Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. The brief dust jacket description told me it was a person’s true recollections about a school of “fun, freedom, and love” that met in old train cars.

I started reading it there on the floor and knew I’d buy it. I
Library Next Door
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Evelyn (devours and digests words)
Beautiful and poetically written!

A nostalgic read, too. Brought me to tears at the near ending.

The Girl at the Window is a memoir written in bits and snippets of the author's real experiences at her beloved school, Tomoe Gakuen. It is no ordinary school. 'Trains' served as the classrooms because of the lack of funds and it was a difficult time with war brewing around the corner.

Sosaku Kobayashi is the headmaster of the school who acts like both parent and teacher figure. Even after his death,
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread this memorable book that i've read it when i was in elementary school. I'm trying to fly away in sweet memorable things in elementary school. This book is awesome. I always had a warm feeling after read it. It should be required reading for anyone involved in education and highly recommended to you and all of parents

Favorite Quote :
"Having eyes, but not seeing beauty; having ears, but not hearing music; having minds, but not perceiving truth; having hearts that are never moved and
Mansi Sharma
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. Specially, parents and teachers to be.
Shelves: favorites
How much better the world will be if parents and teachers could see what this book tries to say so beautifully! Totto-chan is a story that, if understood in spirit, would result in children who grow up to be sensitive adults and an education that equips children with the learning about themselves and forming healthy relationships with the world around them, and not merely with the expertise in passing this examination, and topping that.

Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, I love you for having written this.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relived my childhood days by rereading this one Absolutely delightful ...more
Rose Ann
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Such a charming book!

I do have to say, I would have finished this much is normally a nice, quick read...but life with my 3 kids has been busy lately, so it took longer than normal.

Totto-Chan was very fortunate to be able to go to school at Tomoe.
I wish there were more schools like it.
I love that the headmaster really was committed to these children and their education. Making sure to let Totto-Chan know..." really are a good girl, you know." Always giving her that positive
Eden Rose
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It made my eyes water
Hizatul Akmah
i was surprised that despite the fact that i used to hear about totto-chan quite a lot when i was growing up, i never actually read the book until now. no wonder this story is being used as a part of the education syllabus in japan! at first, totto-chan reminded me of roald dahl's beloved character, matilda but this one has a better ring on the whole 'when grown-ups fail to understand a kid who's smarter than they are' concept because it was based on the true story!!! the train school indeed ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I usually avoid "wonderful teacher" books like the plague, but then those books are often written by the teacher him/herself, or ghost-written with their approval, and can be oh so self-congratulatory. This one, however, was written by a student whose school experiences truly formed her character.

Totto-chan is expelled from school (in first grade!) for being disruptive. She's not hostile or violent, just curious and easily bored. I suppose today they'd call her hyperactive or ADD or something
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Omg I loved this book so much! It was soooo cute and sweet I enjoyed reading every short story of her childhood that Kuroyanagi included.
I can't believe I only came across this book today on GR and realized I forgot to add it xD
* Plot * : Totto-chan is a mischievous little girl who is overactive and loves to explore the world around her. However, her out-of-the-blue questions resulted in her being labeled as a troublemaker. Having to transfer school multiple times, her mother found an
Missy J

I can see now why this childhood memoir is popular worldwide. It's a wonderful story advocating for respect, joy of learning and being kind to oneself and those around you.

The author Tetsuko Kuroyanagi was born in 1933 Japan. The story of this novel is set around the time when she was 5-6 years old, meaning just a few years before the Pacific War erupted.

Kuroyanagi wrote this book in dedication of her headmaster Mr. Kuboyashi. When Kuroyanagi first started her primary education, she was kicked
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As a memoir, the book is unusual. It only spans a few years and during these years the narrator can be no older than about 9. It isn't exactly what you'd expect from Tetsuko Kuroyanagi either. Nothing is explicitly laid out as to how she decided to get into television, theater for the deaf, or how she became the first UNICEF ambassador. The focus was on much more basic aspects of the authors personality and where they came from. The stories are funny, sad, heartwarming, and universal. You don't ...more
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a charming memoir by a famous Japanese television personality about her time at the wonderfully unconventional school she attended in Tokyo in the early 1940s. At Tomoe School, there were no buildings as all the classrooms were in disused railroad cars, children were encouraged to study what they wanted when they wanted, in the warm weather they all swam nude in the pool without self consciousness, they learned respect for themselves and for each other, and apparently most of them grew ...more
I took almost a month to finish this because some eye troubles, otherwise this is a fun and a very entertaining book to read and it's the true story of the author herself Tetsuko Kuroyanagi/Totto-chan.

Totto-chan is a hyperactive little girl in first grade full of excitement and enthusiasm. She gets expelled from first grade shortly after the school year started. Her parents enrolls her to a rather unique school in Tokyo, Tomoe founded by Sosaku Kobayashi, the headmaster who uses creative,
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very cute story about a super cute japanese girl (about 6 years old) that goes to a new school and the "adventures" she has there. Everyday stories of japan in (i guess) 30s.
I wish it was translated in greek so that I could have read it as a kid.
Ha Truong
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really like the little girl and the principal in the story.
It was okay but somehow this book wasnt for me.
But it was fine after all.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's a kind of essay.
But I feel like it as a fiction.
Nevertheless the story in this book is true and impressing.
It's all about the school Totto-chan had went to.
It was too wonderful school to believe it.
I'll recommend this book for children and parents.
I adore this book. I first came across it when I was about 10 years old, living in Japan in the 1980s. So many of her descriptions of her childhood were exactly what I saw around me: benjo ditches, temples, kids in school uniforms... Totto's challenges dealing with authority were hilarious for a kid from any time and any culture. I loved reading them.

This is not a simple book, however, as I recognized when I read the book a second time as an adult. It is bittersweet. Not only is it entertaining
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
My friend Erika took a boat from South Korea to visit me in Japan. They were sailing through the Inland Sea in the evening and the tannoy system called everyone to the deck to admire the view; lights, clam sea, moon, thousands of islands, etc. In an American accent it was promised that "...we will create unforgettable nostalgia..." and I think she said they played some music to get everyone in the mood for unforgettable nostalgia.

"Totto-chan" is natsukashiiii to the max and very cutsey-poo. But
Khadija Sharafi
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This memoir is by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi a popular Japanese actress and host. She recalls memories from when she attended the school “Tomoe” run by an extraordinary headmaster.

The author recalls what it’s like being a child with great curiosity, and how the headmaster responded to this curiosity and how he responded to other pupils’ quirks as well.

All throughout this book, the headmaster, his patience and his understanding of children amazed me. I really admired the headmaster’s way of thinking
Nayana Renukumar
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful books I have ever read and re-read a thousand times. For a long time, Totto-Chan defined the ideal childhood for me. It's been almost 15 years since I last read it but I still remember Takahashi, Osaka, Master Kobayashi and many more.

Totto-Chan was one of my most intimate (albeit imaginary)childhood friends. Read this book to go back to the halcyon, carefree, sun-lit days of those innocent years.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like smiling
Shelves: biography
An absolutely delightful book about a misunderstood young girl in pre-WWII Japan. She's a good kid who suffered from attention disorders and excess energy, and she doesn't exactly do too great in a traditional school environment. So she goes to a new school and meets a special headmaster who understands, cares, and unconditionally supports her. It's an extremely inspirational story and sure to warm your heart. Highly recommended.
Madhu (Madhu LovesBooks)
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Suddenly came across this one while browsing through GR. I remember our teacher used to read a chapter or two every Friday in the English class. (That was way back when I was 10 years old.) I used to eagerly wait for those lectures :) (Sigh! Memories!)
Finally got to read this book when I was 11. Will remain one of the books closest to my heart :)
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Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is an internationally famous Japanese actress, a talk show host, a best-selling author of children book.

She founded the Totto Foundation, named for the eponymous and autobiographical protagonist of her book Totto-chan, The Little Girl at the Window. The Foundation professionally trains deaf actors, implementing Kuroyanagi's vision of bringing theater to the deaf.

In 1984, in
“Having eyes, but not seeing beauty; having ears, but not hearing music; having minds, but not perceiving truth; having hearts that are never moved and therefore never set on fire. These are the things to fear, said the headmaster.” 207 likes
“Drying her eyes, Mother said to Totto-chan very slowly, "You're Japanese and Masao-chan comes from a country called Korea. But he's a child, just like you. So, Totto-chan, dear, don't ever think of people as different. Don't think, 'That person's a Japanese, or this person's a Korean.' Be nice to Masao-chan. It's so sad that some people think other people aren't nice just because they're Koreans.” 48 likes
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