The pandemic has halted face-to-face interactions for most, if not all of us. People may only see each other virtually and celebrations must be done remotely. This has been hard for a lot of people, especially in cultures that value special occasions and hold festive celebrations—such as the Japanese when it comes to childbirth and newborn babies.
In lieu of warm hugs and in-person celebrations, Japanese parents have started sending bags of rice to their relatives who are unable to visit due to the pandemic. The bags weigh the same as the newborn’s weight and they come in a variety of styles. Some are designed like a newborn wrapped in a blanket with the baby’s face attached to the front. This allows the relatives to feel as though they are holding and hugging the baby themselves.
According to the owner of Kome no Zoto Yoshimiya rice shop, Naruo Ono, “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. 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.”
Ono has also expanded to include wedding-themed celebration rice bags to the product range which have become even more popular than the original product. These have the baby pictures of the bride and groom and are given to their respective parents as a way of showing their appreciation.
Images: The Guardian | Gavin Blair | pr