While in Osaka Sunday for a Four Stories event (more on that later), I picked up a copy of Kansai Scene. There was a great article by Laura Markslag about the all-important Park Debut, that is, the first time a mother ventures onto a public playground in Japan with her child.
Markslag writes, “Many parks in Japan are controlled by gangs. No, not by the gangsters that sell illegal substances to children or the kind that would steal your grandmother’s purse. These parks are controlled by exclusive bands of mothers, your average neighborhood housewives, and they decide exactly who can and cannot play at the playground with their children. These gangs of mean mamas have more power than many thugs do and instill fear in the hearts of the new mothers.”
I was blissfully unaware of any such groups here, and besides, we usually met up at the park with other foreign friends when we ventured out, but I find this whole scenario very easy to imagine. And people wonder why bullying is such a big problem in Japan!