Saturday, 12 September 2015

How many people in your family?

This is one of those Japanese school book questions that makes English speakers wince.

Native speaker teachers spend a few years unteaching this one ( and a lot more)...sometimes it gets mangled into: "How many families do you have?" which conjures up images of sneaky men having dinner at two homes and shuttling between multiple wives.
Anyway. The family survey question is being asked all over Japan at the moment.

The 2015 National Census is taking place. Respectable older men and women with official name cards on straps round their necks come a-knocking and give each household census forms that can be completed on paper or directing you to online submission.

Okaasan answered the door the other day to our local census taker.
How many people in the household?
Four? I think....

Luckily the man realized she was pretty confused and he came back again in the evening, when he got me instead.
How many people in the household?
Three. One man and two women. And two, super cute cats. And the occasional not so dead rat.

I expect the population figures for Japan are WAY off in fact, if you multiply Okaasan's confused answer across the country...thousand of confused elderly misreporting.

Okaasan was giving the answer she would have given 40 years ago as a housewife: me, husband and two sons.
The husband is long dead. One son lives in another place. And the best son lives with her and a wonderful daughter-in-law.

Three people.
That's us.

Plus the escaped a cat...lived for two days under the second floor fridge...and then somehow fell into the first floor bath. Where I found it late afternoon. Brushed it gently into a box and carried it to freedom.
So. 3 humans. 2 cats. And a rat in this household this week....


  1. I'll bet you are right about the numbers being reported incorrectly. I found our form in the mail slot yesterday. I think I will try to do it online and avoid the census taker at the door.

  2. This year's census form was the simplest I've ever seen and it took me all of five minutes to fill it out online. I was so grateful not to have to deal with people at the door.

    1. Yes - we did too. Easy peasy. Okaasan's encounter was with the gentleman who delivered the forms, he was making some kind of record on a clipboard of the number and gender of residents. We are still wondering if we should set the diner table for four in the evening :-) BY the way...Debbie.....I think Yumi came to visit you this weekend!!! Yumi my student..Yumi your friend :-) Small world!