Updated: August 13, 2021 9:26:44 am
As the Covid pandemic has forced people to stay away from the elderly to keep them safe, it has barred many from meeting the newest members of the family. So, as newborn babies can’t visit all their relatives, Japanese parents are sending them proxies instead: cuddly bags of rice!
Known as ‘Dakigokochi’, the rice-filled bags — shaped like a baby bundled in a swaddle cloth — aim to create the joy of embracing a child. Amid the social distancing and ban on travelling, the phenomenon of pretending to hold a ‘baby’ is increasingly finding favor among the relatives of new Japanese parents, Mashable Asia reported.
According to The Independent, parents are sending these customised bags of rice adorned with the child’s face that weigh the same as their newborn babies.
Yosimiya, one of the most popular rice shops, on its website said: “The surface of the bag is made of Japanese paper, so it feels good to the touch. Moreover, the shape is round, and when rice is added, it feels soft and fluffy, which makes you feel attached to it.”
‘Dakigokochi’ is not a new phenomenon, The Insider said, but the COVID-19 pandemic has “resulted in an uptick in demand because long-distance relatives cannot travel to wedding ceremonies or visit newborns”.
Available in various colours, patterns and printed motifs, the Dakigokochi cost around one yen a gram, with a 3.5kg pack priced at 3,500 yen. Naruo Ono, the owner of Kome no Zoto Yoshimiya, told The Guardian that the idea first came to him some 14 years ago with the birth of his son.
Thinking about his relatives living far away, he 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”. As people coming to the shop started to appreciate it, Ono thought there could be a market for them and started producing the bags for customers, gradually getting orders from all over Japan. Over the years he has even branched out, making special editions for weddings.
“In the case of the wedding celebration goods, the bride and groom give them to the respective parents with their pictures on them from when they were babies as a way of showing appreciation for giving birth to them,” he added.
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