|I haven't obscured her face because it was so long ago that I can't imagine her being recognisable today|
I have no idea who this child is. I was having dinner with some friends circa 2005, and her parents just walked over, put her in my lap and took a photo. I’m not sure who was more freaked out about the situation, her or me.
I was walking with the man-person recently when a little girl, about five years old, yelled out 外人だ (foreigners!) and broke away from her mother, running over and throwing her arms around my waist. Beaming up at me she pleaded 遊ぼう (play with me)??
It’s been the case for a long time that foreigners, specifically English-speaking foreigners, have been prominently employed in the education field. A lot of kids have happy experiences playing with a fun, cheerful foreigner at an “international pre-school”, English conversation class, baby “let’s sing and play in English” class and of course at elementary school. It’s not surprising that kids see us and assume that we are there to entertain and play with them. What is slightly less understandable is the way adults push children to interact for them. “Ask her where she’s from” the mother on the bus will ask her child in Japanese. The child turns to me and says “where are you from?” in Japanese. I answer in Japanese. “What is she saying?” The mother asks the child, and the child repeats exactly what I said back to the mother. “Wow, foreign languages really are easier for children!” The mother marvels. The child and I roll our eyes in synchronisation.
While I don’t mind at all (I love kids and do actually find them easier to communicate with), I wonder how safe it is for the children involved. I guess paranoia about stranger-danger is a very un-Japanese thing, and I usually like that about Japan.