The Watermelon Game: “Confession” The Japanese Way

In many Japanese pre-schools, children play an outdoors game called the watermelon game.  A small table with a watermelon is set up on the grass.   Each child  is then blindfolded and spun around.  Sound familiar?  The child is given a long stick or pole to strike the watermelon.  If the child is in danger of striking another child, s/he is pointed in the proper direction and given encouragement by the other children.  If the child is able to split the watermelon, well and good.  However, if the child misses, a “confession”  is in order.  The child must state which member of the opposite sex s/he has a special liking for.  Needless to say, the children try to split the watermelon with all their might.  The game prepares them for “confession”  at a later and more meaningful stage.  The Japanese custom of “confession” follows them through adulthood, when “confessing” one’s secret love for a member of the opposite sex can have serious repercussions, such as marriage.  To “confess” is taken seriously by both sexes as a way of expressing what is truly in one’s heart.

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

2 Responses to The Watermelon Game: “Confession” The Japanese Way

  1. rommel says:

    Kind of awful to put pressure on the kids to reveal sensitive information. Although, that’s a really good learning curve. I learned the hard way to speak up and be honest when you have a problem other than just keeping all things in just for yourself.


  2. I think you hit the nail on the head, when you said it’s “a really good learning curve.” It does prepare Japanese children for frank conversation later on.


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