‘Crescidinhos’ shows children working adults – 05/05/2022 – illustrated

Three-year-old Yuka left the carb and headed for a crosswalk across a four-lane road. “Even though the light is green, he’s still looking for the car!” A narrator commented.

Thus began a typical scene from the Japanese reality show “Crescidinhos” on Netflix at the end of March. The show has seemed a bit unfocused in recent episodes, but it’s been in Japan for more than three decades.

The show’s popularity in Japan reflects the country’s high level of public safety, as well as a parenting culture that sees the autonomy of young children around one to three years of age as an important indicator of development.

“It’s a common way of raising children in Japan, and it symbolizes our cultural approach, which may surprise people in other countries,” said Toshiyuki Shiomi, a child development expert and professor at Gakuen University in Shiraume, Tokyo.

“Crescidinhos” has been airing on Nippon TV since 1991, initially as part of another show. It was inspired by Yoriko Sutsui’s 1977 children’s book “Mickey’s First Irand”, which tells the story of a mother who sends her five-year-old daughter to buy milk for her younger brother.

Edited episodes of “Crescidinhos” on Netflix are short – 15 minutes long or less – and high-spirited. When young children under the age of two try to shop or perform other tasks at the request of their parents, in public, for the first time, the audience laughs in the background. Security monitors and cameramen are hidden. The intent is that they do not appear on camera, but it often happens unintentionally.

As the children navigate the crosswalks and the full busy spaces of the adults, a narrator describes their progress, like a commentator in the ninth inning of a baseball game. And little children talking to strangers along the way.

When she buys Udon noodles for family meals, the three-year-old tells a shopkeeper in the Akashi coastal town of Akashi, “Mom told me to go to the market today instead.” “Really?”, The shopkeeper replies. “You’re a very smart girl, aren’t you?”

Something or other is always wrong. For example, Yuka forgets for a moment that she should buy a Tempura, and another three-year-old girl forgets what her parents told her to do because she is too busy talking to herself. In other episodes, children throw their groceries on the floor (in one case, it was live fish) or refuse to leave the house.

When two-year-old Ao’s father asks his son to take his soy-spotted sushi chef’s apron to a nearby laundromat, Ao doesn’t want to hear about it. “I can’t,” Ao tells his father, standing outside the family home holding his dirty laundry in a plastic bag.

Ao’s mother finally persuades the little boy to go, giving the boy a delicious bribe. “It’s painful, isn’t it?” The father told him he saw his son walking down the street alone. “It broke my heart. You’re so beautiful to her,” she replies.

The conduct of the passage

Shiomi said parents in Japan try to teach their children a special kind of autonomy. “In Japanese culture, freedom does not mean arguing with others or expressing your opinion,” he said. “It means adapting to the group and taking care of daily chores like cooking, shopping or doing other small chores and greeting other people.”

He noted that students in Japanese schools were seen cleaning classrooms. At home, parents even give their young children an allowance to cover their expenses and hope that it will help them prepare meals and perform other tasks.

A well-known example of this culture is, in the early 2000’s, Princess Iko, a member of the Japanese royal family, went to elementary school alone and on foot (she was always monitored by the Imperial Palace police).

In the Tokyo area, production company Wagakoto produces short documentaries about young children working outside the home. Producers charge from $ 120 per episode. Production company founder Jun Nitsuma says the service was inspired by the books “Crescidinhos” and “Miki’s First Errand” and that customers pay for it because they want to keep a record of the autonomy achieved by their young children.

“This is a paragraph for children and their parents,” Nitsuma said. “These tasks that have been given to children for decades are a very symbolic mission.”

Place for discussion

Prior to acquiring Netflix Grown Ups, the series had already adapted for viewers in the UK, China, Italy, Singapore and Vietnam.

For Kaata Sakamoto, Netflix’s vice president of Japanese content, “‘Crescidinhos’ reminds us that unique stories can break down cultural and language barriers, bringing fans around the world closer to entertainment.”

There are those who criticize the program in Japan. The main argument of the critics seems to be that the actions asked of children are essentially tantamount to coercion, or that the program may encourage parents to put their children at risk.

Violent crime is rare in Japan. Nevertheless, some educators say that using common security metrics paints a misleading picture of public safety. They point to a recent study by the Ministry of Justice that shows that crime rates in Japan, especially sex crimes, are higher than those reported by residents in local police departments.

“The program is bad,” said Nobuo Komia, a criminologist at Tokyo’s Risho University. “The network has been broadcasting the show for years, and it’s very popular,” he said. “But in reality, Japan is in danger. This security myth is created by the media.”

Even supporters of “Crescidinhos” admit that the program was created for a time when the behavior of young children was regulated by various social rules.

There is a growing debate in Japan today about whether working with young children is good for their development, as most people have speculated in the past, Xiaomi said. And parents no longer allow public safety.

“I even sent my daughter to buy something from the grocery store when she was three or four,” he said. “He was able to get there, but forgot how to get back because he didn’t have a clear picture of the route in his head. So the grocer brought him home.”

Translated by Clara Allen


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