This is originally a book in English with the title of “Just Like a Baby.”

In Japanese, it is called “Akachan no Yurikago.”  (“Baby’s Cradle”)




Deep in midst of winter, a cradle is built and painted for the new baby.  The entire family is waiting expectantly and finally she arrives….crying until she is placed in her cradle.

I find myself wondering why THIS of all books was chosen. It shows a foreign family (based on hair color, and also that this is not a Japanese book in its original form), but I think what Japanese people like about it is that it shows not only the parents, but also the grandparents (on one side of the family, anyway.)

Even though many families no longer live with the paternal grandparents, it’s a long tradition here in Japan to do so.  A family here is thought of as:  Paternal grandfather, paternal grandmother, father, mother, children.  (And any paternal great-grandparents, if still alive.)

As an American, this is strange to me.  As a wife…, I don’t want to live with my husband’s parents.

I know Americans often think of Chinese people who give away their daughters to be adopted as so very callous, and while I could never condone that, part of me understands the importance of a son after having lived in Japan for twenty years.  (And China is far more traditional than Japan.)  I don’t think that sons are more important actually, but when one knows that a daughter LEAVES THE FAMILY and is NO LONGER A PART OF HER FAMILY once she gets married and she ENTERS A NEW FAMILY and BECOMES A PART OF THAT NEW FAMILY….it’s all very sad to me.

Japanese people are not as traditional as they once were and times have changed.  I really don’t think sons are valued more than daughters here at all.  (Well, not by most people.)

By the way………I don’t actually know that the baby in the book is a girl.  There are no pronouns for the baby in the entire text.  The Japanese languages has pronouns, but it doesn’t really need them.  So I was just guessing that it’s a girl, but don’t really know for sure.

The English version is here.

The Japanese version is here.