This is the recording of elementary school children going home in Matsushima. The four of them walk on the pavement near Zuiganji Temple while playing with snow. Entering the spring season, the weather in Matsushima was still quite cold. Snow can easily be found although some have melted. These children were very cheerful as they throw snow at each other. They screamed and laughed as if the cold was not a hindrance. Their cheerfulness are like an accent in the calm bay of Matsushima.
Japanese children have been taught to be independent from a young age. It is common to see elementary school children walking or taking the train on their own, or with their friends. Their legs were already strong enough to take care of themselves. Those little legs have gone through many conditions, heat, rain, and even snow. While recording in Natori, I also stumble across a couple of children walking home from school during a very cold rain. They seemed very strong in that rough weather.
The parents in Japan let their children become independent from a young age. Except for kindergarten, schools do not suggest parents to accompany their children to school. on the contrary, schools teach children to be able to ask for help themselves if they were to have trouble in public areas. The low crime rate in Japan supports this kind of system.
However, now Japan is also struggling with the Hikikomori phenomenon where children and youths would lock themselves and shut out from society. This is usually caused by traumas or social pressure. It is a different paradox than the one we are used of seeing in this country.