Why are Japanese Kids so Independent?

  • One typical scene in Japan which might be surprising in other countries is that children walk home or take buses by themselves to and from school. This is particularly based on their culture that children should learn to become independent at a young age. It is associated with a Japanese proverb, “Kawaii ko ni wa tabi o saseyo” which means “Send the beloved child on a journey.”

    A Child’s Independence

    Each child is created uniquely different from one another. One may mature earlier than another. Nonetheless, in Japan, children are trained to be self-reliant at a very early age. It may sound scary for some, especially for foreign people, but this is the nation’s rule-of-thumb. Most parents send their children to schools that are not too far away from their houses, usually around 15 to 20 minutes, making it easy for them to go to school by themselves. Though it is quite unthinkable for parents who are outside the country, this is the Japanese reality.

    The Country’s Security for Children

    Many Japanese parents believe that Japan is a safe country for children since the crime rate is relatively low. In Western countries, people always think that kids are not safe when unsupervised. Parents fear the thought of their children being kidnapped or worse, unable to go home. Thus, leaving them alone is uncommon. However, in Japan, children are usually given crime prevention buzzers for emergency purposes. Elementary students are trained to walk home by themselves while very young children often meet up with other kids in the neighborhood where they walk to school as a group.