Japan: relatives unable to visit newborn babies are given rice bags to ‘cuddle’

In Japan, parents of newborn babies have an inventive solution for family members who cannot visit the baby due to the corona pandemic. For example, the parents send bags of rice to their family that weigh exactly the same as the newborn and have a photo of the baby
printed on them. That way they can still experience what it’s like to take the baby in your arms.

The rice bags come in all colors and sizes. Parents can even choose to have the bag wrapped in a blanket to simulate ’a real baby’. Mums and dads of a smaller baby are cheaper, as the price of the rice bags increases according to the weight of the child. For example, some companies charge 3,500 yen (about 27 euros) for a bag of 3.5 kilograms.

‘Experience the baby’s cuteness’

“I first got the idea about fourteen years ago. My son had just been born at the time, and I thought about what I could do for the relatives who lived too far and couldn’t visit him. That’s why we decided to make the bags of rice. That way, the family could still experience the cuteness of the baby,” said Naruo Ono, owner of the rice shop Kome no Zoto Yoshimiya.

In addition, Ono expanded the product line and now also makes wedding-related rice bags. “On the occasion of a wedding, the bride and groom give rice bags of themselves as babies to their parents as a token of appreciation,” it sounds.

“Since the start of the pandemic, those rice bags have also become very popular, as many people cannot attend weddings.”

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