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.