While Japan’s fast and on-time trains make getting around the country incredibly easy if you are an adult, getting from point A to point B is much more difficult if you have a baby who is crying, difficult, or suddenly needs to. extra attention. Try bottle-feeding a baby while balancing the necessary grocery bags on your lap, grab a shoe that a child has taken off and tossed on the train floor as the car shakes and sway, or soothingly rock a panicked baby while keeping a firm grip on a stroller so that it doesn’t slip can be nightmares, especially in a country like Japan where not causing trouble to others is the cornerstone of traditional etiquette.
But recently, some struggling moms and dads have been happy to spot other passengers sporting this emblem hanging from their bags or clothing.
Called on hoiku (childcare) they are a sign that the wearer is ready and willing to help parents who have difficulty riding on rails with young children. The creators of the hoiku brand say they were inspired by seeing a mother on a train struggling to comfort her screaming baby, and wishing there was a way to automatically let parents in similar distress know as help was available. They opted for the idea of badges, similar to Japanese pregnancy badges, which both indicate that the wearer approaches the parent to offer help, not berate him for his unruly child, and also to bypass the reluctance of Japanese society to ask foreigners. for help, for fear of disturbing them.
We spoke with Saya Takemoto, an educator from Toyama Prefecture who is part of the effort to increase awareness and use of the hoiku brand and the thoughtful initiative.
Initially, Takemoto informs us, badges were only available to people currently and directly employed in the childcare sector, such as daycare staff or preschool teachers. However, this position was eventually relaxed, as you don’t necessarily need professional-level training to give a parent in distress a quick helping hand.
However, the organization doesn’t just hand out badges willy-nilly to anyone who wants one. In the new system, the organization periodically conducts interviews with candidates, and badges are given to those who demonstrate a genuine desire to help others and improve society.
Takemoto says that initially the demand for badges was higher in the countryside, where the interpersonal sense of community tends to be stronger, even among strangers, than in the big city. The use of badges is slowly spreading in Tokyo, and now they can also be seen in the prefectures of Niigata, Aichi, Toyama, Saga and Hyogo.
But while the group is obviously happy to see more people sporting the badges, Takemoto says they ultimately hope they go away, having helped create a society where they are willing to help, and parents not feeling reluctant. to accept such help, is of course only a question. Until that day comes, however, the hoiku brand is here to help.
Related: Official website of the Hoiku brand
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