School Prep, and Another Bento
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Yellow Green (and Friends) Sakura Crey-Pas (the Crayola of Japan) crayons, each with Anthony's name handwritten by Fumie -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1100 — full exif
Yellow Green (and Friends)
Sakura Crey-Pas (the Crayola of Japan) crayons,
each with Anthony's name handwritten by Fumie

A lot of prep went into Anthony starting first grade, mostly by Fumie. Pretty much every single item he brings – and he brings a lot – must have his name on it.   Every.   Single.   Item.   That means a box of 16 crayons requires 17 names (one for the box, and one for each crayon).

Fumie hand-wrote his name directly on the sleeves of the crayons above, but for the longer, sleeveless crayon-pens below, she had to write his name on stickers that she then attached...

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70 -200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1 / 320 sec, f /3.2, ISO 3600 — full exif -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/320 sec, f/3.2, ISO 3600 — full exif

She had to do this for every pen, every notebook, every chopstick, every pair of scissors, every item in his gym uniform, etc., etc., etc. If it wasn't nailed down, it needed a name tag.

The name-tag thing also had to happen for his “math set”.... the hundreds and hundreds of individual sticks, papers, pretend coins, cards, boxes, chips, doodads, etc., in the math set. Thankfully, God bless someone, it came with hundreds and hundreds of stickers with his name pre-written, so all we had to do was stick the stickers. That little amenity brings the task within reach of my non-Motherly skill set, so dealing with the math set fell to me.

Having actually learned something from my own parents, I enlisted my child to do the work...

Sticking Stickers Lots of Stickers -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1800 — full exif
Sticking Stickers
Lots of Stickers
Hundreds of Stickers in Various Sizes Each with Anthony's name — or — Hundreds of Sticks Each requiring Anthony's name -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/1.8, ISO 640 — full exif
Hundreds of Stickers in Various Sizes
Each with Anthony's name
or
Hundreds of Sticks
Each requiring Anthony's name

That sheet of stickers was one of two sheets. The other had all kinds of different shapes and colors of stickers, but there were no instructions as to which stickers would be appropriate for which items. Just sorting that out was a puzzle to be solved.

Assembly-Line In Progress -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 280 — full exif
Assembly-Line In Progress
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1100 — full exif

All that was a couple of weeks ago. I was reminded of it today because Anthony has his first field trip today, and as such, Fumie made a bento for him to bring along this morning. It's the first school bento since Anthony graduated from kindergarten last month...

Today's Bento soccer-ball onigiri , salmon, broccoli, potato korokke and a bonus snack of raw yatsuhashi -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 58 mm — 1/250 sec, f/13, ISO 6400 — full exif
Today's Bento
soccer-ball onigiri, salmon, broccoli, potato korokke
and a bonus snack of raw yatsuhashi

I'm reminded both of Anthony's first preschool field trip, and his first school bento, both about three years ago. Time flies when they're growing up.


All 8 comments so far, oldest first...

Wow… just wow. I’m amazed at this little fact of Japanese life.

Well, it sure does cut down on the conflicts in the classroom about what belongs to who!

— comment by Gustaf Erikson on April 24th, 2009 at 4:53pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I’m not sure what the point is? I’m guessing that in Japan all kids must bring the exact same things to school including brand, model, etc. And this probably would get confusing as they would all look the same without the name tags. But isn’t this a little extreme? Kids must also learn not to be too possessive and that it’s OK if you end up with your buddy’s red plastic stick instead of your own red plastic stick, as they are the same anyway… I don’t remember conflicts about this from my early days of school (in France, so we didn’t need the tags but we could pick our own stuff).

— comment by rx1337 on April 24th, 2009 at 10:50pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Elementary schools in Hawaii usually request that school supplies be labeled also. Be glad his was only a 16 “crayon” box and not a larger one!

Are you given a list of things that Anthony needs to bring to school? Did you have to purchase the math set?

Aren’t cray pas smeary and messy?

We were given a list of things to be prepared, among them many items that were specifically specified (such as the math set, so everyone has exactly the same one). We had to buy everything. “Cray-Pas” is a company name, and while I don’t doubt that they make things that are smeary and messy, the two sets of crayons were not. —Jeffrey

— comment by Diane on April 25th, 2009 at 2:50am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I am wondering what would happen if you added
Anthony in English under the Japanese name?

And a secondary question. Do you and Fumie speak English when at home or Japanese?

My brother and sister in law in Bellair Texas speak Parisian French
when at home even though my brother was born Canadian and never learned
Quebecois. His wife of 26 years was a translator for the EEC and speaks several
languages, Parisian French, Luxembourgise (sp)?, German, and a number of other languages.

Their daughter speak fluent French, Texan and a number of other languages and is now working and studying in Cambridge MA, in American English.

Am told I have a strange accent when we meet at family holidays.

The lack of strangeness among the strange is… strange :-). Anthony goes to a Japanese school with Japanese kids, so I want him to feel as “normal” as possible, so we don’t write “Anthony” in his stuff. And when you think about it, the nametags on everything are more for other people’s benefit than for his own… the teacher finds something in the corner of the room wants to know to whom to return it. At home, I purposefully use almost all English with Anthony. Fumie uses both, but tends to use Japanese the most. Fumie and I tend to use mostly English between ourselves (her English is far superior to my Japanese), but we mix both fluidly. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bryce Lee in Burlington Ontario Canada on April 25th, 2009 at 5:55am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

It makes sense to me that names are written on stuff that first graders bring to school…. six year olds are not generally known for their attentiveness to the whereabouts of the stuff they’re responsible for. But Fumie gave me an update as to this particular school’s thinking….

First off, if your name is on something, you’ll perhaps treat it with more respect rather than treating it as a commodity. It encourages kids to take a bit more responsibility (and have a bit more appreciation) for what they have.

Also, with the math set, they’ll do pretend shopping and exchanging such that the pieces will get disbursed throughout the class, and it’s much easier to just return things to their owner than for everyone to count and make sure that they each have 20 green sticks, 20 red sticks, 20 yellow sticks, seven 10-yen coins, three 50-yen coins, two 5-yen coins, etc. etc.

The names have been all written in hiragana (the alphabet that kids learn first) on purpose. Anthony can read/write his name in English and in kanji as well, but the name is mostly for other kids who may not know that 松中 is まつなか. (Along the same lines, I’m sure he can’t read the kanji for anyone else’s name.) So ensuring that the kids can read these names helps foster more self-sufficiency among them as a group.

Some of this is rooted in culture that’s specific to Japan, but it all makes good sense to me even outside of any cultural framework.

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on April 25th, 2009 at 10:36am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

More bentos! I like it! Is this a child size box ?

Griselda, Arlington,TX

— comment by Griselda Nishikatsu on April 28th, 2009 at 12:54am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

That is a great idea. Painstaking, but it seems like it might be worth it.

I’ve never seen such cute onigiri. That’s really cool.

— comment by Tyler Van Arsdale on May 12th, 2009 at 11:58pm JST (8 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

I write from France and we also have to put name tags on every item for my son.

— comment by Anne on September 17th, 2012 at 6:32am JST (5 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink
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