1-Year-Old Girl Goes Shopping in Japan
“Hajimete no Otsukai” (First Errand) is a Japanese TV show that follows small children as they carry out errands for their parents. Past specials have featured kids traveling across town to buy ingredients for their mom’s kitchen and a small boy riding a bullet train to visit his father’s workplace. Usually, the kids are about 4-years- old, and sometimes an older child will be accompanied by a younger sibling.
Last week, they aired a special that had their youngest-ever solo errand runner. Little Haru is one month shy of second birthday:
Haru’s task is very simple: go down the block and buy some tofu. She still isn’t old enough to talk in full sentences, but she does seem to understand the concept of money.
Japanese people do not regularly send such small children out on errands. This television show always has staff who dress-up like deliverymen or pedestrians. They pretend to not notice the children, but they’re actually there to protect them.
Haru also has the advantage of living in one of Japan’s safest places. She’s a resident of Toshijima, a small island with a population of about 3,000 people. Old fashioned small town life is preserved on the island, with the entire neighborhood knowing each other and collectively making sure children stay safe. It’s not at all unusual for small children to run errands for their parents (although Haru is exceptionally young).