Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Making sushi with junior

The Japanese have some very bizarre traditions. At least, they seem bizarre to anyone from a Western mindset. From ritualistic suicide to strange game shows involving firecrackers, the little island that could seems to keep turning out things that just confound the Western world. Not that we have a lot of room to talk (*cough cough* American Gladiators *cough*), but, well, we just don't get it.

Included in that sense of the bizarre is new way they have to commemorate the birth of a child. It's a tradition in Japan to bestow gifts upon the families to help celebrate the new child. We like that tradition, and we definitely see parallels with baby showers in our own country. It's also something of a tradition for the new, slightly larger family to send something to those who thought of them in the first place. Here in America, we often trade around pictures of the newborn, shipping images of our precious bundles of joy to whoever we think might want to see.

In Japan, they plaster the child's face onto a bag of rice.

But a new thought has reached their shores, and no longer will just a shapeless bag of rice, the kind you might find in a grocery store, suffice. No, now a company is producing "cuddly" rice bags, tailored to the weight of the newborn, and made so that the rice fills the bag completely. An obvious complaint about using standard rice bags for such an endeavor was that the rice would settle, especially for smaller babies, leaving the photo on the bag distorted at the top of the sack. By creating a better bag, the surrogate child should maintain its shape long after the child has grown out of its first booties. The biggest issue? People seem to be becoming attached to the bags of rice, and are becoming unwilling to use the insides once their finished cuddling with it.

Honestly, we can see that idea really taking off, but there is always going to be a danger. We know how plenty of people in this country will substitute pets and/or dolls in place of the children that they can't have, displaying them proudly for all to see. Now imagine someone doing that with bags of rice, keeping their friends and families children frozen in an uncooked state (and in bag form, no less) for years or more. It could theoretically lead to a rice shortage, if enough people start hoarding their whole-grain children.

Of course, we also think it would be fairly disturbing to mix up some fried rice, knowing that you had to cut little Hiro to get the ingredients out.

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