Saturday, January 12, 2008

rice-cake making with kindergarten kids!

Another cultural exchange program today with a slight difference; it’s with Japanese kindergarten kids. And we’re making rice-cake together! These kids are 5-6 years old so I’m very excited because Japanese kids are the cutest! I used to join a cultural exchange program with primary school kids (around 10-11 years old) and it was fun too, except they’re already grown up a bit making them little shy with strangers.

We could hear voices of children laughing and screaming when we arrived at the main entrance of the kindergarten. It’s a very big, clean and well organized, happy place for children. Then we were brought to the main hall to be introduced to the children. After that, one country after another, we were called to be in front of all the kids to show them the national flag and answer some questions about our country. Unfortunately for the Russians, the teachers put up the wrong Russian flag (the red army flag). Worse for the English, the teachers forgot to put up their flag. What a shame; and even though there were no Brazilian with us, they put up their flag also. So this teaches the children that even kindergarten teachers make mistakes, their human! Not a big deal at all.

Then we were asked to teach the kids about how animals sounded in our country. Like in the U.S., chicken would make a ‘cook-a-doodle-do’ sound while in Japan they sounded like this: ‘koke-kokkou’. Cats in japan: ‘nya’ while in china it’s ‘miau’, like everybody else. It’s very interesting to discover that people from different country interprets the sound of animals differently. Dogs in U.S. made a ‘bow wow’ sound while in Japan it’s just ‘wan wan’. In Korea its ‘kong kong’ while in England it’s ‘wuff wuff’. What about Malaysia? I don’t know, so I made it all up. When the ‘animal sound’ corner was over, this American girl came up to me and said “out of all the sounds, the Malaysian version is the funniest!!!”.

After that was over, we enter the main event: rice-cake making! What we do is that we use this long, heavy wooden hammer to beat the mochi rice until it becomes sticky and mochi-like. Of course we do it with the children like in the video below.

When the mochi (rice-cake) was done, it’s time to eat! They made 3 variations of mochi: soy souce, red bean and another one where it was covered with a mysterious powder. I hope it’s not drugs.

I joined the melon group (groups were divided by fruit names) to eat my mochi while chatting with the children. The girl sitting next to me was the cutest thing and she really has some interesting things to say. I did not expect much when talking to a 5 year old but she shocked me when suddenly she said that she would snap the neck of anyone who would bother her and leave the poor bastard to die. I told her to stop talking like that and use more polite Japanese because she was using foul language. She asked why, so I told her that she might hurt people’s feelings and I asked her to image what would she felt if someone else does the same thing. She told me she would stuck a long nail into the forehead of the kid who would do that to her. And this is with the presence of the founder of the kindergarten; and he did not say a word. The founder (he’s 91 years old) pretended like he does not hear a thing.

That really shocked me. How could they let these 5 year olds to say such violent things? What’s more bothering is that how can a 5 year old even think about killing other people? She is the cutest thing ever but she says the worst. Of course, this incident does not represent the majority of Japanese kids; not every Japanese kid is going to grow up to be psychopath, but this must be a sign of something that is very wrong about the education for children here.


Or maybe it’s just a joke? She was smiling and laughing when she said it; but do normal 5 year old jokes about killing people? Or maybe it’s because of me? I’m definitely a very bad influence to small children because I have turned a cute girl into a psychopathic child. Or maybe I’m just exaggerating this issue.

Then came the time to say goodbye. I rub the head of the psychopathic girl, hoping she did not end up killing any of her teachers or friends in the kindergarten because blood, gut and violence does not fit this happy place, at all. What am I thinking; she is going to be fine. She won’t kill anyone.

It was snowing heavily outside and I (with a Korean and a Mongolian student) took the taxi home. We talked about global warming and the future of alternative energy to counter that problem. But I’m still a bit worried about that kid.



  1. put la the "animal sound" video too bro..

    p/s: still wonder how our dog sound.. ^_^

  2. if i have the video, i'll upload it of course. unfortunately, i forgot to record any of it.


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