Culture & heritage

Pandemic Parenting: New Japanese Parents Introduce Their Newborns as Bags of Rice

Feature Image courtesy of The Guardian / PR
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Prioritising safety above all else, ‘rice babies’ ensure that separated family members still get to (sort of) hold the new addition in their lives.

Parents welcoming newborns in Japan have figured out an endearing way of introducing their little ones to family members and friends who are affected by Covid-19 SOPs that restrict visitations.

Called dakigokochi, Japanese parents are now sending adorable little rice-filled bags that imitate the weight and feel of their infant to relatives as a token of celebration. Although not exactly a new practice, sending dakigokochi was evidently brought back in view of how families have had to stay separated throughout the course of the pandemic.

Woman cradling rice baby.
Image Credit: The Guardian / PR

Naruo Ono, the owner of Kome no Zoto Yosimiya rice shop was quoted in The Guardian as saying: “I first had the idea about 14 years ago when my own son was born and I was thinking about what I could do for relatives who lived far away and couldn’t come and see him.”

He added: “So we decided to make bags of rice that were the same weight and shape as the baby, so relatives could hold them and feel the cuteness.”

Image Credit: @isteinar / Twitter

The rice bags are shaped like a swaddled baby with a printed photo of the infant on it. Wrapped in a blanket, relatives feel as though they are physically holding the new baby, a beautiful representation of the power of human connection.

Baby rice bag designs | Image Credit: Yosimiya.com

Coming in a wide range of designs, the each bag’s portion of rice is weighed to match the newborn baby’s birth weight, and pricing is adjusted to the size of the baby, as well. Some businesses have agreed on charging one yen per gram, with a 3.5-kg pack priced at 3,500 yen (RM134).

Additionally, wedding-related rice bags are also in high demand during the pandemic. With many unable to attend wedding ceremonies, bridal couples are gifting their parents a rice bag as a sign of appreciation for giving birth to them.




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