Pandemic has definitely made it hard for people to enjoy each other’s company and visit family and friends. Especially in Japan, where the vaccination process is going at a very slow pace and many of the prefectures are in emergency states.
But the parents of newborn babies wanted to share their happiness with their relatives and friends so they brought back the practice of sending rice bags as heavy as the child covered in blankets and bearing the photo of the baby. These rice bags are supposed to simulate the feeling of holding the actual baby as they normally would if they were allowed to visit the family.
Japan always seems to be in talks for having very weird traditions and surprisingly this is not a new thing that has popped up out of nowhere. The custom of sending such rice bags muffled in baby blankets with the photo of their young one is called dakigokochi. This is a long-time tradition that had seemed to be known to few but the Pandemic definitely made it trendy as many families are using it recently.
Having a new child in the family tree is worthy of getting together and celebrating with your loved ones but it’s not possible in the current situation of Japan as Tokyo, Okinawa, and several other prefectures are under strict restrictions and a state of emergency has been declared. If the conditions continue to be like this it’ll be a while before relatives can visit each other.
These rice bags can definitely cheer up families as they get to at least feel what it feels like to hold the new member of the family since the weight of the bag should be made very close to the baby’s weight and it also has the baby’s photo along with personalized messages. It’s all snuggled up as you would keep a real baby in blankets. There’s also a rice shop named “Kome no Zoto Yoshimiya” that has an online listing of these rice bags and more information.
Still, Japan’s been seeing a declining birth rate for a while such that these rice bags for celebrating the newborn have been overshadowed by the sales of rice bags that newly-wed couples send their parents. It’s meant to show their appreciation for having given birth to them. Hence dakigokochi isn’t just a tradition of sending rice bags to friends and families by parents of newborns but is also a way to celebrate wedding ceremonies.
The only con of this tradition is however, it’s supposedly hard to open the rice bags that are so tightly packed!