Jul 13, 2018

What's with the hanamizu??? Grab a tissue, please!

So one of the things I love about my daughter’s school is that they take pictures of the kids and fill up photo albums over the course of the year. Periodically, they send those albums home for parents to be able to look at and write in. Yesterday was one of those days where the album came home with our daughter, and we were able to enjoy snapshots of what she’d been up to lately.

While we were looking at the photos, my wife asked me a question: “Why don’t they wipe any of the kids noses?” You see, it’s been cold season around here lately, and in every picture there was at least one child with hanamizu (or snot, for lack of a better English term) running down his/her face.

I didn’t have a good answer for my wife, except to say it wasn’t due to neglect, but to the fact that hanamizu is just treated differently here. I grew up in Japan, and I don’t ever remember adults wiping their kids' noses. Shoot, just look at your standard anime and manga, and hanamizu is a common comedic device whether the subject is a child or an adult.

I’ve never really understood it, especially when tissue packets are such a big thing over here. You can’t walk through a department store or train station without being offered one.  Not to mention, tissues are pretty cheap at your local supermarkets.

What's with the hanamizu???  Grab a tissue, please! photo

This isn't cultural sensitivity either--I mean, it's basic hygiene, right?  It's not wonder diseases get communicated so easily through the schools here considering you've got hanamizu just hanging out constantly.

The only thing I can think of when it comes to an aversion to wiping noses is that I'm well aware that folks in Japan don't like carrying used tissues or handkerchiefs since they are unsanitary.  Still, I think I'd rather have a soiled tissue in my pocket than hanamizu running down my kid's face.  But maybe I'm just missing something here.

Am we the only ones out here that don't understand the comfort with hanamizu around here?  Feel free to vent with me in the comments section below!



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).