A typical Life header image 2

A typical Japanese Bow

June 18th, 2008 · 4 Comments · Daily Life, Typical

Kimono GirlPicture a  little Japanese girl in a pretty flowered dress, not more that 3 years old, bowing to her sibling’s school bus as it departs for the day.  That is the sweet scene that my husband and I encountered as as we walked down our street one morning this week and I can’t get it out of my mind.

As most people know the Japanese bow out of respect, thanks and even in apology.  This scene made me think about just how young children are when they start to emulate their parents actions and how important it is to start setting an example for children very early. 

On most mornings in my neighborhood there is usually quite a crowd waiting for the various preschool busses that serve the area to arrive.  The crowd usually consists of a number of young mothers and a gaggle of well behaved and neatly uniformed schoolchildren with their not yet school aged brothers and sisters.  When the brightly colored busses arrive, the one decked out like a train always makes me smile, there are usually one or two teachers on board along with the driver.  One of the teachers opens the door to the bus and greets the  mothers and the children as they board.  As the door closes, many of the mothers bow as if to say "take care of my child,  I leave then in your care" while the younger kids toddle around unaware that their siblings are off for the day.

On this day, at this particular bus stop, there was only one mother and daughter left on the sidewalk as the doors of the bus were closed.  As expected, the mother bowed to the bus and somewhat unexpectedly, so did her daughter.   This sweet child’s bow was no half hearted attempt to emulate her mother – her bow was a formal 45 degree bow that would have made the Emperor of Japan beam with pride!

I don’t have a digital image to share with you, but the image is burned in my memory, and  I wish I could share my admiration with the mother of this beautiful young child and tell her about the smile that she brought to my face on what was shaping up to be a very ordinary day. 

Photo Credit:  Flickr, Girl dressed for "Seven Five Three" ceremony, Yoyogi Park

Tags: ·······

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 billywest // Jun 19, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Yep. Little scenes like that remind us of just how unique and interesting this place is. Maybe it’s an image better left imprinted in your memory and not on any actual media.

  • 2 newyorkdude // Jul 12, 2008 at 2:24 am

    My seared-in-memory moment is not as cute as yours, but has the same ingredients. I was once at a bus stop in Manhattan, New York. A small group of Japanese kids were ahead of me (maybe they were a traveling group of school kids). When the bus arrived, they moved aside and allowed me to go ahead of them. I said “arigato.” They all lined up and bowed and said “do itashimashita” back to me. They were perfect young ladies and gentlemen.

    PS American kids are not all badly behaved. Sometimes they make room for me ahead of them. But they don’t bow or say do ….

  • 3 common japanese words // Mar 1, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    On the majority I would say that many of the kids are well behaved and have a sense of respect that is unseen in many places, but it seems to be changing quite quickly. I have certainly seen the out of control child as well.

  • 4 Japanese words // Apr 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Great story. Unfortunately, this type of thing is becoming somewhat scarce in Japan, which makes me appreciate it even more.