children

Gadgets before flowers – Japanese moms reveal what they really want for Mother’s Day

Gadgets before flowers – Japanese moms reveal what they really want for Mother’s Day

Although the association of carnations with Mother’s Day began in the United States and stretches back over 100 years, I grew up never really being conscious of it (likely due to some combination of being a terrible son and having little interest in historical events that didn’t involve swords).

In Japan, though, most people are aware that carnations are a symbol for Mother’s Day, and a bouquet of the flowers is by far the most common gift given on the holiday. But while mothers across the country appreciate the gesture, one survey says there’s something they want even more: electronics.

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The greatest wish of underprivileged “pig-shed” sibilings is to have a bright lamp

The greatest wish of underprivileged “pig-shed” sibilings is to have a bright lamp

It was Children’s Day in Taiwan on April 4th, and while many children probably wished for new toys and games or a day of fun and play, a pair of underprivileged siblings living in Nantou County of Taiwan wished for nothing more than a really bright light so that they could study, and for it to rain less so that they could sleep on dry beddings.

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Japan ratifies child abduction treaty, but some parents may still be left behind

Japan ratifies child abduction treaty, but some parents may still be left behind

This week, Japan became the 91st signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides protection for children under 16 from being taken from their country of residence by one parent against the wishes of the other. However, the convention does not work retroactively, so parents whose children have already been taken are urging the Japanese government to stand by provisions of the treaty in their cases as well.

A group of left-behind parents organized a march in Washington, D.C., on Monday to hand-deliver 28 applications for assistance reuniting with their children to the U.S. Department of State and to submit a petition for the return of abducted children to the Japanese embassy.

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Little store managers take over FamilyMart in Taiwan, hilarity and tons of cute in store【Video】

Little store managers take over FamilyMart in Taiwan, hilarity and tons of cute in store【Video】

Help! Somebody shrunk the store managers at the FamilyMart convenience stores in Taiwan!

We kid you, but it’s true that these adorable children were store managers at Taiwan’s FamilyMart! The “Little Store Manager Experience Camp” run by the convenience store franchise chain allows children to experience a day as a store manager, and though they were pretty good at their one-day “job”, they were even better at what kids do best – being irresistibly cute! Check out what the experience camp had in store for them after the jump!

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Halfway to adulthood: New Japanese festival for 10-year-olds gets parents talking

Halfway to adulthood: New Japanese festival for 10-year-olds gets parents talking

Japanese children enjoy many rite-of-passage celebration and age-specific holidays. This week it was Girls’ Day (hina matsuri) on March 3rd; next up in May will be Children’s Day (kodomo no hi). Another children’s holiday comes along in November: shichi-go-san, for children who have turned 3, 5 or 7 that year.

Once Japanese young adults turn 20, they have a special holiday to celebrate the beginning of adulthood, too. Coming of Age Day (seijin no hi) celebrates those who have reached the Japanese age of majority by turning 20 the previous year. And now growing in popularity is the “halfway to adulthood” festival, held when a child is 10 years old.

So what is this new(ish) celebration, where did it come from, and what does its burgeoning popularity tell us about Japan today?

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Japanese parents react to the technological prowess of their digital-native kids

Japanese parents react to the technological prowess of their digital-native kids

One day when I was a pre-kindergarten kid, some relatives were visiting our house. At one point the grownups’ conversation turned to something outside my realms of interest, which at the time consisted of giant robots and dragons, exclusively. I grabbed a video cassette and stuck it into the VCR (probably to watch cartoons about giant dragon-shaped robots).

My aunt saw this and expressed her surprise that I could do it all by myself, but to me, on the difficulty scale it ranked somewhere below that pesky toilet thing my parents kept recommending I learn how to use. My aunt saw me mastering a new, cutting-edge form of technology, but to me, I was just hitting some buttons to start the cartoon I wanted to see.

This sort of thing happens every day, and I’m not talking about me amazing someone with my mental capacity (that only happens about once every 12 months – can’t wait for April!). The wondrous gadgets that change the way adults work, play, and live are just ordinary tools in the eyes of their kids, no more awe-inspiring or intimidating than a refrigerator or pair of scissors. Recently, Twitter users in Japan shared the moments when they realized their children were digital natives, and couldn’t imagine life without the high-tech conveniences their parents will never take for granted.

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Why deciding whether or not to help a crying girl is complicated in Japan

Why deciding whether or not to help a crying girl is complicated in Japan

Last week, I was riding the train home from one of the luxurious adventures that define my jet-setting expat lifestyle (swimming at the public pool, which had been half-filled with elderly women doing water aerobics). As I sat down on the bench seat, I noticed a girl sitting opposite me, wearing the uniform of either a middle or high school student.

After a few stops, a man in his 30s entered the car and without hesitation sat down next to the girl and began talking to her. The girl turned her face away and did her best to ignore the man, yet, undaunted and now leaning closer to her, he continued jabbering away, occasionally pausing and waiting in vain for some sort of response. At this point there were at least a half-dozen other people on the train watching this uncomfortable scene unfold, and yet no one had made a move to intervene.

This internal struggle between lending a helping hand and not getting involved in others’ business isn’t an entirely unusual problem in Japanese society, as illustrated by a recent Twitter debate that flared up over one man’s quandary about how far to go in helping a distraught little girl he saw wandering the streets alone at night.

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Japanese experts and expats react to parenting norms from around the world

Japanese experts and expats react to parenting norms from around the world

I was on the subway one morning during one of my very first trips to Tokyo when I spotted two unaccompanied elementary school-age girls riding through downtown together. How could two kids who weren’t old enough to drink even a sip of coffee without freaking out be traversing the country’s densest urban center all by themselves?

In Japan, though, very young kids commuting to school without any kind of adult supervision isn’t anything unusual, and as such no one paid the two unaccompanied tykes any mind.

Likewise, sometimes things that seem like the most natural way of raising kids to parents overseas might seem totally bizarre to Japanese adults, as this collection of reactions to parenting around the world by Japanese experts and expats shows.

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No grown-ups allowed! Chef with a very sweet motive opens a kids-only sweets shop

No grown-ups allowed! Chef with a very sweet motive opens a kids-only sweets shop

Children in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture currently have good reason to celebrate, as a huge new sweets shop officially opened in their town on December 7. But the news gets even sweeter: only kids in sixth grade or younger are allowed inside! Sounds like any child’s wildest fantasy come true, right? Parents must wait outside (and no doubt prepare themselves for the inevitable sugar-high antics to come) while their children explore the hidden wonders within.

Join us after the jump for a rare glimpse inside the shop and read what inspired the owner to open it in the first place.

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The adorably worst hide-and-seek players ever, a photo journey

The adorably worst hide-and-seek players ever, a photo journey

All over the world, Hide and Seek is a staple of childhood play teaching kids the valuable skills needed for a job in either the bounty hunting or escaped convict fields. Also, being one of the earliest games children can play, it begins to show them that not everyone possess the same inherent skill-set. Knowing this, it’s not so bad to say that some kids just plain suck at hiding.

The following twenty images show such concealmentally-challenged children in action. Don’t worry about feeling bad laughing at these kids either, as it’s possible to lead a rich life without the ability to hide in a house. In fact, we can statistically assume that at least 20 percent of world leaders were hopelessly stuck being “it” as children.

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The good, the bad and the ugly: Japanese kids rate their own country【Survey】

The good, the bad and the ugly: Japanese kids rate their own country【Survey】

Last year, Japan was thrust into the international spotlight after Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics and traditional Japanese cuisine was named an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO (only the second national cuisine after France’s own!). With all of this increased attention on the global stage, one Japanese corporation was curious to know what thoughts Japanese children harbored about their own country. Keep reading to find which things about their country Japanese kids liked and disliked the most.

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The very hungry Kittypillar: Two childhood favourites combine

The very hungry Kittypillar: Two childhood favourites combine

If you or someone you know is expecting or has just given birth to a tiny person, and you’re looking for a gift that’s both cute and a little bit quirky, we may have the perfect item for you right here: Japanese online retailer Akasugu has just announced that it is now stocking baby and maternity items featuring collaborative designs between Japan’s Hello Kitty and classic kids’ picture book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

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Bring your child’s imagination to life: 3-D printed figures of children’s drawings are awesome!

Bring your child’s imagination to life: 3-D printed figures of children’s drawings are awesome!

3-D printing is bringing us a whole new world of possibilities, from fetus replicas to Link’s adventuring weapons, and while the technology is still in development, it often seems like there’s nothing a MakerBot can’t make out of thin air.

But here’s something you probably had no idea a 3-D printer could do: Bring children’s imaginations to life.

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Nagano legislators propose banning morning practice for middle school athletes

Nagano legislators propose banning morning practice for middle school athletes

There are a few unique things about student athletics in Japan. Team activities continue throughout the year, which makes joining one a major commitment. And instead of playing a season of games with the best teams advancing to a playoff, most sports have a few tournaments throughout the year with relatively few competitions in between.

The result of all this is a huge amount of time spent practicing, as opposed to playing games. What’s more, it’s normal for athletes in middle and high school to have mandatory practices not just after class, but before their lessons start in the morning, too.

On the surface, this seems like it should be helpful not only in producing more talented players, but in helping students learn the value of dedication, effort, and proper time management. But this system may be taking things too far, according to legislators in Nagano who are proposing doing away with athletes practicing in the morning.

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Private investigator’s job takes him to the darkest depths of juvenile crime in Japan

Private investigator’s job takes him to the darkest depths of juvenile crime in Japan

Bullying has become a major concern in Japan over the last few years. As even elementary school students increasingly communicate and connect with their peers through technology, evidence of these instances of child-on-child cruelty is often stored electronically. Unlike in previous generations, bullies today don’t have the option of simply denying any wrongdoing took place once a victim comes forward with records documenting the incident.

Of course, there’s still the need to track down the evidence in the first place. This depressing yet necessary task often falls to Hirotaka Abe, a private investigator who specializes in helping parents when their child is victimized by hateful peers.

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Fourth-grader’s life goal of becoming a Pokémon Master applauded by cram-school teacher

Fourth-grader’s life goal of becoming a Pokémon Master applauded by cram-school teacher

Let’s say you’re looking for a job, and someone offers you a position as the vice president of human resources in a global logistics services company. That’s a pretty plum position, and most of us would jump at the chance.

However, offer a nine-year-old kid the same job, and he’s likely to turn it down and say he’d rather be an ice cream salesman instead. The point is kids don’t always have the most concrete handle on what professions entail, so if you ask them what they want to do for a living someday, you might not get the most sensible answers. This was definitely the case when a number of elementary school boys in Japan recently said that when they grow up, they want to become anime characters.

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Seven-year-old in China gets hungry and calls…the police!

Seven-year-old in China gets hungry and calls…the police!

Growing up, we all learn the basic rules and etiquette for talking on the phone. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Don’t crank call random strangers. Never call a 900 number. And never, ever, ever call the police unless it’s a real emergency!!

But what do you think counts as an emergency for a seven-year-old? A house fire? A runaway dog? How about feeling a bit peckish? If you chose “feeling peckish,” you know just how this little boy in China felt!

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Japanese mother compares child-rearing techniques in the US and Japan, finds mixed results

Japanese mother compares child-rearing techniques in the US and Japan, finds mixed results

Raising children is always difficult, regardless of the country you live in. Whether it’s changing diapers or dealing with the “terrible twos,” it can sometimes seem like children exist solely to make their parents’ lives difficult.

But certain cultural and social factors can have a big impact on the whole process, as one Japanese mother explains after moving back to her home country after many years in the US.

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Kids handle assault weapons at US Navy open house, Kanagawa civic groups angered

Kids handle assault weapons at US Navy open house, Kanagawa civic groups angered

At an annual open house event at the US Naval Base in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture residents can enter and take a tour of the military facility and meet some of the people. However, this year some Yokosuka residents were up in arms over a photo showing what appears to be a group of children on a tour holding assault rifles with the marines.

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Sixth-grade girl torches house, gives reason that shocks Japan

Sixth-grade girl torches house, gives reason that shocks Japan

As the summer heat wears on, people are mostly dealing with it well. There’s kakigori, ice cream, and giant chunks of ice to help you get through the hot months. And, just think! Autumn weather is only a few weeks away! We hope…

But one grade-school girl in Chiba Prefecture finally reached her snapping point and…set her family’s house on fire??

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