Monday, June 8, 2009

Let's Michael Everyone!

Yokohama - My son’s fifth grade class chose his drawing to represent their class mascot, “Michael.” Michael, or MAIKERU in Japanese, is an acronym. MA stands for majime ni suru, or “do things correctly (Don’t fool around).” I is for ijime o shinai, or “don’t bully others.” KE is for keijime o tsukeru, or “act responsibly.” Keijime o tsukeru might also mean to “draw the line between good and bad.” When yakuza guys commit yubitsume* they can also sometimes refer to it as keijime o tsukeru (I guess it's kind of a rough school). Finally there is RU for ruru o mamoru, or “obey the rules.”

I was surprised by the class’ choice of mascot. I haven’t done a scientific study but after casual observation I’ve noticed that at least 55 percent of all Japanese school mascots are octopuses. The other 45 percent is divided between 40 percent squid and a remaining five percent falling in an ambiguous category made up of characters of questionable biological origin.

Squid and octopus loom large over the Japanese cultural as well as culinary horizon. I’ve seen kids eat up dried squid like it was candy. In fact you can find dried squid on a stick in just about any neighborhood candy store here.

Squid, a popular school mascot and ....

......after school snack!

*A ritual performed to atone for an offense(s) or in order to leave a yakuza gang in which a gang member cuts off a portion(s) of his little finger.


  1. Love the drawings!

  2. Want to try the squid candy.

  3. Sorry.... I can not understand English.