Saturday, February 10, 2007

Photo Interior Japanese Daycare Center

Photo Interior Japanese Daycare Center

My daughter Cornucopia goes to the Christian-run daycare center near where we live, and recently we were able to view a 50-minute DVD showing daycare routines. It was not copy-protected so I burnt a copy and then tried to capture screen shots using the PrintKey program.

Unfortunately, this prove to be a technical no-no, because the screen capture program was blind to the video, and captured the background of the desktop beneath the video.

However, Saturday 10 February 2007 was one of those Saturdays on which Cornucopia goes to the daycare from 0830 to 1230. On these occasions, she ends up in a wooden-floored room with a handful of other kids, not in the usual room, which has tatami mats.

So I took along the digital camera and took some snaps, and, all going well, one of these has uploaded successfully and should be at the top of this blog entry.

I'm not sure how much detail will be visible, but, looking at the picture from the left, it shows a door opening into a toilet room where a couple of potties are visible.

This toilet room also contains proper flush toilets and plastic cases where soiled diapers are stored. A parent puts a clean plastic bag in the case each morning and takes away any soiled nappies in the evening (or, on Saturdays, in the early afternoon) to dispose of them at home.

Moving to the right, we see tatami mats, not the standard mats but mats which are much longer. These are made of rushes and they are hard-wearing, and, with proper care, will last about as long as carpet. In summer, in the hot weather, there is the fragrance of tatami matting in the air, but now, in spring, in the cool weather, the room is odorless, at least as far as my nose can tell. (But, in saying this, I have to concede that I have a very poor sense of smell.)

Against the wall there are pigeon holes containing boxes, and for each child there are two boxes. One is the towels and aprons for use that day, and the other is a stock of paper diapers and, if the child is old enough, cotton underwear.

For each child there is also a third box, this one containing clothes to be changed into after, for example, some dinner table disaster involving a bowl of soup.

There is also a communal box into which coats and jackets are placed, and Cornucopia will often grab hold of this, haul it out of its pigeon hole and upend it, sending the contents tumbling down on top of her. This at the end of the day, when it's time to go home.

The kids typically take off their socks and go barefoot on the tatami. But, if you were in Japan on business, it would be eccentric to go barefoot in a restaurant which had tatami matting, or in a meeting room in a company building which had tatami mats. On such occasions, you should remove your shoes but should keep your socks on.

If you're going to do business in Japan, it's very important to have socks that do not have holes in them, because you never know when you might have to take off your shoes.

At most places of business in Japan you just walk in off the street in your street shoes, but I have been to factories and research centers where you have to shed your shoes in a lobby and change into sandals, which will be provided for you, but which will probably be too small for you. And some of these premises, even the ones where you walk in off the street still wearing your street shoes, do contain tatami rooms which are obviously used for institutional purposes.

Visible in the midst of the pigeon holes in a TV. This is often on, sometimes tuned to a cartoon show on free-to-air television and sometimes showing a video. Last night, Cornucopia wanted to see the video featuring Miffy and the aeroplane, but there is no such video in her limited stock of movies, and so we told her she had probably seen it at the daycare, and she agreed that this was probably the case.

As a rule, when I go to deliver Cornucopia at 0830 in the morning, Monday through Friday, the floor is already awash with toys and little kids, and very noisy. It's the same when I return in the evening for the standard 1800 pickup, and I have to be careful not to step on small kids or their multitude of toys.

In addition to what the photo shows, there is a long sink bench where cups and toothbrushes are kept, and where hands can be washed. There are also hooks for hanging little towels.

Each morning, on a Monday through Friday workday, I put any resupply of cotton underwear and paper diapers into the requisite box, put the day's towels and aprons into the box for them, put a clean plastic bag into Cornucopia's personal box in the toilet room, hang a hand towel on the hook, put a toothbrush in the toothbrush cup and put a drinking cup in the tray for cups.

This sounds simple to say, but it took me an agonizingly long time to master the routine, and I still sometimes fail to complete the reverse process at the end of the day.

My wife and I planned to meet for lunch after her hair appointment today Saturday, but that plan has been canceled because I'm still recovering from the flu.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was almost never sick. And I'm pleased to say that now, in the aftermath of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the same is still true.

I do have stamina issues but, that said, I'm certainly not sickly.

However, this week I spiked a fever and felt lousy, so called in sick and took Thursday off, spending the day in bed. Thursday night I had a bit of a guts ache, and the thought occurred to me that maybe I had a touch of the notorious norovirus, but by Friday morning my stomach felt okay, and I got through my short working day okay.

This Saturday morning, however, I still had a cough and a bit of a sore throat, and my wife suggested that we cancel our lunch date. We were to have met up at the station at 1120 for an early lunch prior to the daycare pickup, but, when she suggested canceling, I listened to my body, and the feedback I got was, yes, that's a good idea.

Although this daycare center is run by a Christian church, there is no religious iconography anywhere in the place. They do hand out occasional pamphlets which are marked with the sign of the fish, an ancient symbol which, I think, goes back to the days when the Christian church was an underground organization, back in the days of the Roman Empire.

But the local church is a branch of the Japanese Protestant church, and the Protestant churches are not big on iconography.

Someone told me that for the Catholic church the important festival is Easter but for the Protestant church the important festival is Christmas. And certainly the daycare center did a full court press on the Christmas festival, with Santa showing up to visit and with a Christmas tree in the hall.

The hall stretches away from the room shown in the photo, with various doors which debouch into the great outdoors, and this is where adults shed their shoes before entering the premises. Immediately outside the room shown in the photo, there is a place for kids to leave their shoes.

And that's it, I think, for the daycare.


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