This week we visited our Brazilian friend who just gave birth at the hospital/resort. I was very pleased to finally see the facilities, since I will be giving birth in the same place. Everything looked good and at it’s usual 5 star rating. There was only one thing that caught my attention, the way they identified the babies in the nursery. In the west, babies are given a small wrist band to wear with the mother’s name. The other day my sister was telling me that some hospitals actually put electronic bracelets on the babies that would trigger an alarm if the baby is taken too far outside the hospital premises. This all sounds good and normal right? Well please refer to the way it’s done in Japan in the picture below:
Do not adjust your monitor; yes you are seeing correctly the kid has kanji written on her leg!!! Welcome to the world kid let me introduce you to my friend Mr. Sharpie…this won’t hurt a bit!!! Since my friends are from Brazil (hence they have no kanji characters in their names) their baby was identified with katakana (one of the simplest Japanese scripts that use syllables to make a word). How hilarious!!! It’s not like you can’t tell which kid has foreign parents in the first place!!! The big one!!! All the babies where around 5 to 6 pounds but the Brazilian baby was almost 9 pounds!!!
So I went on my usual investigative rampage - all I was missing was a little note pad and pen – and started asking around if this is a normal practice in Japan. Guess what? …wait for it…think about it…off course its normal, it’s Japan!!! The only thing that varies is where the name is written, my teacher told me her nieces and nephews had their last name written on the sole of their tiny feet. I guess this hospital considered that there was not enough space there and just used the whole lower leg as a kanji canvas.
Apparently a few years back there was a big controversy about kids being mixed up in the hospital and given to the wrong parents. As always there had to be extreme measures taken in order to ensure that it did not happen again. So why don’t we…….write the parents last name on the baby minutes after birth? That sounds like a great idea!!! Let’s implement it immediately even though it might cause some issues like:
1. The ink wearing off after the bay is bathed.
2. Not taking into consideration any weird toxins that the magic marker might have, especially if it’s made in China.
3. Ignoring the fact that the baby might get some type of skin rash due to the ink.
Just write on the baby with a marker bought at the 100 yen shop (1 USD) and he or she will be fine. Once again I love this country. Japan is so quirky all the time that it never let’s me down.