How to be a Man...

After the sick-scares of May, June turned into a good month. Emiko and I just got back from taking our daughter, Elinor to the American Embassy in Tokyo to get her registered as a US citizen. In 3-4 weeks her passport and Social Security number should come. Congratulations, Eli!

While poking around on Amazon today, I found a great book! Part "I CAN manual" and part "Boy Scout Handbook," The Dangerous Book for Boys covers all the essential skills for being a boy: paper airplane making, go-cart building, bow and arrow making, as well as adventure stories about Shakleton and Perry, Edmund Hillary and the like. There is an American and a British version, and the crafty stuff kind of reminds me of the Japanese best selling series of a few years ago called Asobi Zukan (Play Guide) which had rules and diagrams for how to play sumo, make bamboo skates, sketches of common insects, how to pitch a tent, how to make a teru-teru bozu, and how to use a ken-dama. The "Zukan" is written in Japanese, but it has enough drawings and diagrams to make it nearly bilingual.

Apparently there is a debate (possibly manufactured?) about the political correctness of "A Dangerous book for Boys" I expect to be giving this to some father friends of mine. I say, turn of the Playstation and Go Outside! Even in the rainy season, there is more to be learned in a walk around the block than clearing another level of Dragon Quest. Check out the Amazon interview with co-author Conn Iggulden, who seems to hit it right on.

"Boys Be Ambitious" as William Clark famously said to the young men of what is now Hokkaido University, always had kind of a sexist ring to my ears, but I don't find anything to argue about with "Boys be Strong" or "Boys Be Adventurous" or "Boys Take Risks!" Of course, my argument about Clark's phrase was that it excluded girls. What, girls don't be ambitious, stay home and do the laundry? Yes, Girls Be Strong, Girls Be Adventurous, Girls Take Risks. Just watch the risky behavior. Hmm, am I falling into a quagmire of sexist debate? Of course I want freshly Americanized Elinor-chan to be strong and be adventurous, but I feel better about her brother taking on more risk.

Risk management in Japan is another topic for another post, but books like "Dangerous" and Asobi Zukan can give young or future men a good foundation in what it is to be...what it can be to be... a guy, and feel just fine about it.

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