New parents in Japan are sending huggable rice bags — that weigh as much as the newborn — to relatives who can’t visit their infants due to the pandemic. The pandemic has put restrictions on all kinds of events that we celebrate in our lifetime. One such important milestone for parents is to celebrate their child’s birth. However, due to restrictions, even relatives are not allowed to visit the newborns. But these Japanese parents have a solution to celebrate their joy in the form of huggable rice bags.
The phenomenon of ‘Dakigokochi” — which means rice-filled bags shaped like a bundled baby and printed with the newborn’s face and name — is increasingly getting popular among new parents in Japan.
The rice bags come wrapped in a blanket along with the picture of the infant on the cover of the rice bag. And holding the rice bag feels like holding the baby.
The rice culture of Japan
Rice is an important part of Asian culture. From being the symbol of prosperity to being the symbol of clearing the debt of parents, rice features prominently in Asian culture and traditions. In Japan, rice symbolizes creation, blessing, and joy. And now, a bag of rice is a symbol of a newborn in Japan.
The huggable rice bags are the preferred choice for new parents who want their relatives to share the joy of having a newborn baby in their lives without worrying about pandemic mishaps. Sending relatives these huggable rice bags that are made to be of the exact weight of the baby and also have the face of the baby is really bringing in some happy blessings.
The origins of huggable rice bags or Dakigokochi
The idea of these “rice babies” came into fruition some 14 years ago. Naruo Ono, who is the owner of the rice shop Kome no Zoto Yoshimiya, wanted to share the happiness he felt holding his newborn baby. But relatives who stayed far away couldn’t make it. This made him think a bit and then he came up with the idea of huggable rice bags as baby replacements.
Each rice baby is made to be the exact weight of the actual baby and can be wrapped in plain but beautiful clothes or have intricate designs. The pricing is based on weight. So a seven-pound child will cost you $350 or 3,500 Yen, meaning each gram will cost one yen. The babies are made round in shape, almost like a newborn wrapped in a blanket, and the use of Japanese paper, or Washi, makes these dolls soft and comfortable to the touch.
The idea became so popular that these babies are even made as wedding gifts. The bride and the groom can get their own cuddle-worthy rice bags as gifts for their parents.
The reason behind their sucess
The main reason for the popularity of these dolls is that the whole idea is simply too cute to not like. When you are given a warm and soft toy, you cuddle it. The same is applicable to these rice bags. It might sound like a simple rice bag that we buy from the stores. But these rice bags are made in such a way that they “feel” like a real baby. Add to it the picture of the actual baby, and you do have a beautiful newborn to cuddle and bless.
Such has become the success that other cultures too are adopting the same ideas to share their newborn’s warmth with their families. Many shops in Japan too are recreating these dolls and although the prices vary, the feeling is priceless.