On Saturday I took my brood to the Tōka Ebisu Festival to pray to Ebisu, the god of wealth, fishermen, fortune, and merchants. (And if that isn't already large enough portfolio for one god, Ebisu is also said to be the guardian of the health of small children.)
As I have written before, one of the highlights of the four-day-long festival is a lucky drawing (福引, fukubiki) for Ebisu goods--calendars, large paper fans, daruma dolls, lucky mallets, giant paper-maché fish, and so on. In past years, I've "won" all sorts of prizes, big and small, but last year elder son and I arrived too late and missed the drawing altogether. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I made sure we left home nice and early Saturday morning, the last day of the festival.
My son wanders off alone in search of a Kyōryūja mask. (I'll write about that one of these days.)
My son finds a lucky drawing stand, instead. There are all kinds of pellet guns on display.
"Lucky drawing! Everyone's a winner. Lucky drawing!"
"I want this one," he says to me.
"This isn't a shop. You don't buy these. You have to buy a raffle ticket."
"I want this one," he says again.
My son has become rather persistent when he wants something. Usually it's junk, overpriced junk, but he wants it all the same, and wants it NOW.
A few weeks back, the two of us popped into a convenience store. As I was withdrawing some money from the ATM, my son wandered about the aisles looking for candy and toys and found an Anpan Man Camera.
“I want this,” he said, placing the toy on the check-out counter.
"What is it?"
"Anpan Man Camera."
"I don't have any money," I said.
"You have money."
"Yes, but not for this," I said, picking the camera up. "How much is it, anyways? A thousand yen! No way!"
"I want it . . ."
A tantrum threatening to erupt, I scooped up the boy and headed straight for the door. We were going a German restaurant that was about a twenty-minutes' walk away and I'll be damned if my son did not keep saying, "I want Anpan Man Camera! I want Anpan Man Camera!" the entire distance.
"You have a camera. I nice digital camera."
The battery had died, but I had since recharged it and emptied the storage. It was working nicely again.
"It's not broken," I replied. "I fixed it the other day."
"I don't want Daddy to fix it! I want Anpan Man camera."
He finally calmed down by the time we reached the German restaurant, but having carried the 20kg kicking and crying boy the entire distance, I was thoroughly exhausted.
"You don't understand," I tell my son. "You have to buy one of these tickets first. If and ONLY if you're lucky will you win the gun."
The old woman running the stand says, "Everyone's a winner."
"Yeah, right," I reply.
"I want this one!"
I ask the woman how much one of the raffle tickets cost.
"Five hundred yen."
"Five hundred yen! Auntie, I think the biggest winner at this stand is you!"
Just then a middle-aged retarded (sorry, Sarah Palin) man walks up to the booth and says he wants a gun, too. His minder tries to hold him back, but the man tries to take one of the guns, saying in Japanese, "I want this one. I want this one." The minder relents and gives the retarded man a five-hundred-yen coin.
I tell my son: "You watch! You'll see, he won't win anything."
Well, as luck would have it, the retarded man ends up winning the very gun my son wants. A second man in his thirties with severe Down's syndrome comes up next and also wins a gun.
"I want one, too!" my son says.
Well now I have no choice but to also give my son a five-hundred-yen coin and let him have a go at the game.
Maybe it is because it's the last day of the festival and the woman has nothing to gain by cheating us, or maybe it is simply because she doesn't want to make a little boy cry, either way, my son "wins" the gun he wanted.
"What do you say?"
My boy looks up to the woman and very bashfully says, "Thank you."
I tell her thank you, too. "That was awfully decent of you."
"Lucky drawing! Everyone's a winner! Lucky drawing!"