I've had lots of different, fascinating conversations about Japanese culture with my adult English class.
We've talked about Japanese legendary characters (such as kappas). We've talked about origins and meanings of Japanese names. We've talked about our blood types. (which I'm going to write more about next time.) On multiple occasions we've discussed Japanese food, which I'm sure comes as no surprise!
By the way, this is a kappa -- a mischievous water-dwelling creature that is kind of a cross between a turtle, frog and duck.
But one topic that really stands out is the tooth fairy, and the lack thereof.
I'm not exactly sure how it came up. I think maybe we started talking about kappas, which led to the Easter Bunny (even though there are very few similarities between the two -- the Easter Bunny is much cuter and nicer), which led to the tooth fairy?
But anyway, no one knew what I was talking about when I mentioned the tooth fairy. So I explained that when a child in America loses a tooth, a little fairy comes and leaves money under the child's pillow.
"A little fairy comes and leaves money under the child's pillow!?!? Ehhhh???" I'm pretty sure jaws dropped.
"Yes," I told them. They were more than intrigued by this strange concept of a little fairy collecting teeth in exchange for money.
I went on to say that the tooth fairy always left me a quarter (which is about 25 yen). But she wasn't a very fair fairy because she gave one of my friends a whole dollar bill for every tooth! I was NOT very happy with the tooth fairy when I made this discovery. Ha.
"So." I had a question for them I couldn't help but ask. "If the tooth fairy doesn't come to Japan, what in the world happens to baby teeth?"
They explained to me...
If it is a lower baby tooth, they throw it up onto the roof of their house! If it is an upper tooth, they throw it underneath the house. It's done this way so that the new upper tooth grows healthy downwards, and the new lower tooth grows healthy upwards.
And this is "normal"?
Absolutely. In Japan.