“Sumimasen…Sashin O Totte II Desuka?” A Photo Journey With the Smalls of Japan.

“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

I don’t even know where to begin, really. Coming home from Japan and trying to sort through over 2000 photographs is not an easy task. But it’s so much more fun than sorting through my suitcase, so my suitcase still sits. I step over it on the way to the computer and get to work.

I visited many different buildings, parks, and historical sites on my trip. And though parks and castles and food are intriguing and important, my most favourite photographs were the ones I made of the children I met. The smalls.

I learned a very important phrase while in Japan…”Sumimasen, sashin o totte ii desuka?” It means, “excuse me, can I take your picture?” I struggled with it at first. I could never remember the “o totte” part! Once, when I was sure I had it right, I approached a couple of school aged boys and struggled though the phrase. One of the boys looked up at me after what seemed forever and asked me in perfect English, “you mean, take my picture?” Ha!!

The smalls were almost always eager to have their photograph made…except some of the older, more shy schoolgirls. And they loved to “pose”.  Which, to the smalls of Japan, meant putting up their “peace” fingers! Even the preschoolers were pros at the “pose”…

I had so much fun meeting these kids. They were so excited to say “hello” to me! One of the little boys I met, walked away doing the fist pump, he was so excited! Hehehehehe! Their smiles and their shyness, their eagerness to practice English, all brought me so much joy. It helped me not miss my own smalls so far away in Canada.

There was never a shortage of children on my trip. School kids everywhere! Laughing, silly teenage girls. Goofy, show-off boys. Families. Just the same. On the other side of the world, but just the same.

And just like every other child I know, their thirst for knowledge and their curious nature was clearly evident.

I even got to help a handful or two with their English homework! They gifted me with a folded paper crane when we finished!

A few things were different…like the wee kids’ busses…

Seriously…my kindergartener would give his right arm to ride on that bus! And I have a bunch of preschoolers and toddlers who would love to play in this play place at the mall…

The room with the balloons in it had air blowing to make the balloons float and bounce around…too much fun!

I have always wanted to visit Japan. Every since I was a small myself. I couldn’t wait to taste all the different foods, and see the buildings. To walk in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, and feel the ocean on the other side of the world with my very own toes.

Now I have done all these things and more. I have climbed up castle towers, tried on samurai armour, eaten meat right off the head of the fish, and tried my very first hot sake. But the thing I’ll remember the most of this trip is these little faces that reminded me of home.

Arigato gozaimasu, smalls. You made everything so much more joyful.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Arlee, Small Potatoes


22 thoughts on ““Sumimasen…Sashin O Totte II Desuka?” A Photo Journey With the Smalls of Japan.

  1. Simply splendid in every way! I look forward to your posts and admire your adventurous spirit. Thank you for inspiring my day with your pictures and quotes; for taking me with you in a small way to see a foreign land through your eyes. Delicious and nourishing.

  2. When my husband was in the Navy we were stationed on Okinawa. I loved the kids there. They were so curious and eager to learn. My daughter who was 2years old at the time, learned a lot of their language and they loved to give the peace sign even in 1972 when we were there. Thanks for posting. Brought lots of good memories 🙂

  3. What a beautiful post! We have quite a concentrated Japanese community here in our very own neighborhood (relatively speaking, for Virginia), because our neighborhood public elementary school happens to have a Japanese Immersion program. One of the highlights of the school year is always the Japanese Festival. What a lovely culture. We love having a taste of it here in our own community. I was always the go-to person for bringing some good hands-on Japanese art to the festival, and my favorite activity to do was Gyotaku…fish printing! You would love it. I will probably do it with my tot classes this summer and will post about it on my blog. While we don’t use real fish (which I would like to try some time), there are wonderful authentic rubber fish replicas available through Nascoarts.com which I use with great success. The kids love it!

  4. This made me cry and I didn’t even know why at first. While I have come to love canada and don’t miss Japan most days, deep within, I guess I am still Japanese. Your pictures stirred those emotions in me. Perhaps because they are not of shrines and temples, but of everyday life in Japan. Of my happy childhood memories…..Thank you Arlee. Makiko

    • Makiko, your comment made me tear up. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I sure loved visiting your “hometown”! Sorry to make you cry! Oh, and thanks for the tip for the rock garden!!

  5. Reblogged this on A Place of My Own and commented:
    This woman amazes me. She has 6 kids, is a photographer, day home mom, yogi, and has creativity up the wazoo. I’m proud to call her my friend. Check out her blog of her recent trip to Japan! I dare you to not fall in love with her as I have!

  6. Wonderful pictures! What a lovely reminder that we all share similarities, even on other sides of the world! I do, however, enjoy seeing the cute fashions that these kiddos are wearing! 🙂 Adorable.

  7. Oh what a wonderful trip you took me on! Thank you so much for sharing…I am a big fan of sharing other’s travels so it was wonderul to visit Japan with you 🙂 I showed my little girl the photos too as she shares my enthusiasm for these things (we are still getting our head around what the “whole world” actually is. She says when she gets on the school bus this morning she is going to suggest doing it up a bit lol She says their bus looks like Mr Maker’s car….don’t know if you’ve seen that British children’s craft program but it includes a rather zany ride like that. Thank you again for sharing 🙂

  8. Beautifully done and in perfect Arlee flair… it’s what we all love most about you, your ability to reach us where sometimes we ourselves don’t often venture… deep within our own hearts. Thank you for sharing.

  9. We have this play are at the mall in Schaumburg, Illinois – a very awesome place. I guess they franchise 🙂
    Great pictures! It had to be a wonderful trip. Welcome back

  10. Very cool post, not a perspective you see a lot in other travel post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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