The Fresh Prince of Japan

Did you know that males in the Japanese imperial family do not wear pants until their fifth birthday??

Okay, well technically that is not completely true. But for a short time I thought that was the case.

It is an ancient tradition in the Imperial House of Japan (IHOJ) for male children to don the flowing kimono trousers and receive a symbolic haircut when they turn five.

The ritual marks the first time the child wears those trousers in his life.

When I read this article detailing that experience for Prince Hisahito, I initially glanced over the word “those” in front of trousers. The ritual is when the male children wear the flowing kimono trousers for the first time.

But I didn’t see the word “those” so I thought it said that Japanese royals do not wear any pants until they turn five.

I was so ready to jump on that “fact” and use it as an anecdote for a post I was brainstorming. The topic was about how we often get stuck in practices of doing things the way they have always been, just because that is how they have always been.

I had prepared a joke about how wearing pants for the 1st time might have been a big deal 1000 years ago, but its nothing to brag about now. What if Price Hisahito was cold, would his parents not let him wear pants then?

I was going to compare that to how some companies cost themselves money and time by following instructions that are based simply on the strategy of “just they way they’ve always been.”

I was ready to write an amazing article but my facts were all wrong. I will just have to wait on that post until I can find another example to use to really drive home my point.

Instead, I guess the lesson I can learn from this post is the importance of every word in the sentence. As I showed in my misunderstanding of Japanese royalty traditions, glossing over one small word can completely alter the point of the story.

Speaking of the story…the story of Prince Hisahito is actually quite interesting (despite the fact that he didn’t have to wait five years to wear pants).

He is the third child and only son of Prince Fumihito. He is only 8-years-old but he is third in line to become Emperor of Japan. Until Hisahito came along, there was panic that there would not be a male heir to the throne.

Check out this cute kiddo.

Prince Hisahito may be young but he is already shaking things up. He became the first member of the Imperial House of Japan to receive his education at a school other than Gakushuin Primary School.

This is a big deal because the Gakushuin Primary School was an institution established to educate the children of Japan’s nobility. Basically it was a school set up in 1874 exclusively for kids like Hisahito. It was a school by kings for kings (no word on if their mascot is the Kings).

In 1947,¬†Gakushuin became a private school, opening its doors to children who weren’t royalty (but still could afford the expensive tuition). Even though the school became public and there is no law that said a prince had to attend Gakushuin, but every member of the Imperial House of Japan still attended the school.

Until Hisahito, that is. In April 2013, the prince enrolled at Ochanomizu University Elementary School so he could be with many of his friends from kindergarten.

Japanese princes had been doing the same thing for over a hundred years and Hisahito (and his parents) decided a change was necessary.

Maybe there was a story about not just doing things because that is how they have always been done, after all.




Photo credit: Wikipedia