New ABC’s of motherhood in Japan: Apps, Beer and Crying
The rewards of having a baby: the precious coos and smiles, the joy of continuing the human race, the free beer. Free beer? Sort of.
Kirin Beer is promoting healthy maternal drinking habits – and, coincidentally, its one-year-old Kirin Free beer – by giving cans of the alcohol-free brew to new mothers on their way out of the maternity ward. Free is among the ranks of last year’s wave of un-beers, which includes Suntory Fine Zero, Sapporo Super Clear and Asahi Point Zero. Free seems to be the only one explicitly targeting new mothers; their original campaign focused on pregnant women but this recent campaign marks a shift to post-partum partying.
And new moms who had the presence of mind to get on Twitter and announce their delivery on the microblogging site are rewarded not only with a bunch of 140-character congratulations, but with an iPhone app, too. BabyBlog will send a free copy of its photo cataloging app to the first 100 parents each month to tweet 「出産なう！」(shussan nau), Japanese Twitter-speak for “I’m delivering a baby now.”
And hope the iPhone is still nearby when the tweets become a repeated string of “the baby is crying now.” Not surprisingly, some of the top-ranking paid apps in the “medical” section of Japan’s iPhone App store are baby soothers, including Stop Cry Baby Sound, Baby Smile and Baby Sleep.
Getting out of the house might be a welcome idea when the bundle of joy gets a little bigger. The women’s division of Japanese web portal Excite launched a mobile “Mama support” site this week with an “Out with Mama” directory. It lists “mom-oriented” details for about 20,000 entertainment, shopping and health-care venues around the Kanto and Kansai areas where babies are welcome, including vital data like whether there are places to nurse and if strollers can be wheeled in. The site, in Japanese only, is available on on the three main cell phone carriers, and unlimited access costs ¥210 a month.
Could any of these be the elusive population-boosting incentive the graying country’s been waiting for?
Finally, if the kid’s going to cry anyway, might as well make a sport of it. People have been getting a kick out of Asakusa’s relatively new take on the centuries-old tradition of nakizumou, a contest in which young sumo wrestlers compete to see who can make a baby cry the loudest. It’s all for the greater good – the tradition apparently comes from the old proverb “A crying baby grows up strong,” so it’s good luck if your kid cries.
Just keep telling yourself that.