There’s a minor crime wave going on in Japan right now: serial petnapping. Japan has been in the midst of a huge “Chihuahua boom” for the past few years, thanks in part to a popular TV commercial for high-interest loans about a man who had to borrow money so he could buy a tiny dog tuxedo for his Chihuahua to be by his side at his daughters wedding. With the little dogs fetching $3000 and up these days, they’ve become targets of thieves who steal them and resell them on the Internet. Dogs are extremely pampered in Japan, and are treated like a member of the family in many homes, especially in Tokyo, where having a small furry companion can make existing in the concrete jungle just a little easier.
One thing I’ve noticed about Japanese parents: they are usually quite concerned about the well-being of their kids, and many involve themselves with their children’s education more than I’ve seen in the U.S. Whenever I drive somewhere in my city I pass many signs that have been put up by the local junior high school PTA, which basically encapsulate a lot of the joshiki (universal common sense) that Japanese usually share on subjects like how to raise kids right. The slogans are usually general statements like “overprotective parents are the cause of weak children” and “those who don’t show respect to their own mother and father won’t receive it from their children.” Recently I came across another interesting slogan, which used the four syllables of the English word “OASIS” (pronounced oh-AH-shi-su in Japanese) to remind readers of four phrases children should always be taught to say. They are ohayo gozaimasu (“good morning,” as it’s always important to greet others cheerfully in Japanese society), arigato gozaimasu (“thank you very much”), shitsurei shimashita (“excuse me,” said when leaving a teacher’s room as a sign of respect) and sumimasen deshita (“I’m sorry,” said in apology when you’ve done something wrong). One of my life’s goals is to drive down every street in my city and make notes on all these PTA signs, and compile them for the web, but I can’t seem to find the time.
It seems Japan can always surprise you. Now a small brewery in Tokyo has created a non-achoholic beer for kids, called Kodomo no Beer, so kids can enjoy the fun of drinking a frosty one with Dad after a dip in the hot springs. See it here.