はじめてのおつかい: “My First Errand”

5 Sep

When you were a child, did your parents ever ask you to run an errand (おつかい) for them on your own?  I vividly remember going to the department store in Tokyo to buy some bread, all by myself… and I was only 4 years old! I felt like such a big girl! I even walked to my piano lessons by myself at that age. If you’ve ever visited Japan, you know that even today, young children take the train to school by themselves.

In this day in age in America, not only would this seem unimaginable, but downright dangerous to send a preschooler out by themselves. I don’t even let my kids play in our yard without me out there with them. (Oh how it would be nice to go back to the “good old days!”).

Anyway, “Hajimete no otsukai”, or “My first time running an errand by myself” is a pretty big milestone to some families in Japan. I recently found out that there is a TV show called “Hajimete No Otsukai/はじめてのおつかい“… the show has been around for over 20 years! TV Japan aired one of their specials recently and my kids were GLUED to the show! My kids must have been thinking, “What? A kid like me going shopping all by themselves? That is crazy!”. It was an adorable show! Here’s one of the older episodes found on YouTube:

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

You can watch an entire 3-hour long special HERE.

 

One of my favorite Japanese children’s books is also called “Hajimete No Otsukai“. I think the book might have inspired the TV show.

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I’d love to know about your “first otsukai” experience, if the country you live in is safe enough for kids to run errands by themselves, or any other thoughts you may have! :)

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12 Responses to “はじめてのおつかい: “My First Errand””

  1. Anya September 5, 2013 at 2:20 PM #

    I used to go shopping all the time since I was as young as 5 (Russia is no longer such a safe place, I guess,although my friends send 10 y.o. kids to buy simple things in a nearby store too), and walked to school and music school on my own around 7-8. No such thing here of course. My kids love helping with errands, and they enjoy paying for stuff in the store. But I’m always there. *sigh* The show looks so cute!

    • Hiragana Mama September 5, 2013 at 4:02 PM #

      Thanks for your comment Anya! Something I love about little kids is that they are so eager to help!

  2. Sharon September 5, 2013 at 5:56 PM #

    My son just watched it with me and absolutely loved it. (He’s 3.5 years old.) Thanks for sharing. He just told me specifically that he was interested in how she was walking down the street. I think he was trying to describe how Japan has less sidewalks than America. :-) It was great to see such a little girl cutting with such sharp knives, too. My son and I got to talk about ways we could integrate some of this independence in his life, too. He was pretty excited to hear that I would let him use his own basket at the store too (though I would be way too terrified to send him to the store alone).

    • Hiragana Mama September 10, 2013 at 5:40 PM #

      Sometimes we forget how many things little kids are capable of doing!

  3. Rachel M. September 5, 2013 at 7:41 PM #

    Great post! Thanks for sharing the show! I’ve heard about it but this is the first time I’ve seen it. A group of Japanese girls I babysit told me about it. I can’t wait to show Nila these clips!

    Definitely a culture shock. I still don’t know how I’ll feel about sending my kid off alone on the train to school when I have a family in Japan. It IS a lot safer and that’s reassuring. But I’m still not sure and feel protective, because you never know. If they walked with a group I might feel more confident about it.

  4. yseino September 13, 2013 at 9:08 PM #

    That show is so cute! I want to get TV Japan so I can watch shows like this!

    • Hiragana Mama September 14, 2013 at 7:06 AM #

      There are some cute shows on there, but not a lot :)

  5. Liam September 14, 2013 at 9:51 PM #

    I loved watching this show in Japan, I love how sometimes the children interact with the TV crew, unaware of who they are. If I ever move back with my soon-to-be-born daughter, I would love for her to try this one day. I’m not sure I’d ever let her try here in Australia. Still, plenty of youngish kids catch the train to school here.

    When I was a kid I don’t think I ever had a はじめてのおつかい, but I did come home from school by myself on the bus at age 5 or 6. I used to get off the bus at the top of my street and run down the road and try to cross at my house before the bus caught up!

    In hindsight that was probably why I was never given errands to run on my own!

    • Hiragana Mama September 17, 2013 at 9:16 AM #

      haha! I would love for my kids to be on the show too.

  6. Nami | Just One Cookbook September 22, 2013 at 4:52 PM #

    This was one of my favorite shows to watch growing up. I think it’s been around for close to 30 years (thinking of my age vs the time I was watching haha). I like how camera crews follow the little ones around trying hard not to be seen. I used to go otsukai for my mom when I was little too, but I can’t imagine my kids going on shopping on their own…don’t feel it’s really safe here and I think I’ll be arrested for neglecting kids? LOL.

    • Hiragana Mama September 22, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

      True… we’d most likely end up in jail. I kind of want to gather some friends to act as cameramen and make our kids do their own hajimete no otsukai!

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