Image from tofu-oyako.com
Every couple weeks or so, the kindergarteners learn a new dance. Generally, it's just something one of the teachers makes up, Frankensteined together out of the reassembled parts of old dead dances-- a few spins, some hops, a bit of toe-touching, some cute poses, a jog-in-place, a head-rolling, a bicep flex. They perform the dances in very neat lines grouped by age, classroom, and gender. All moves are completely uniform, and they seem to be preparation for the children's future lives doing synchronized workday morning exercises in some company's backlot.
This week's dance is about tofu.
After lunch today, the four-year olds were all herded into the auditorium. After the kids were straightened into lines and perseverently hushed, the occasion's surprise special guest was announced: "Fu-chan." The name rang no bells, so Fu-chan came out to introduce herself. Fu-chan the tofu superhero didn't fool the children for long though; her true identity was quickly speculated on, despite the white box over her head with the markered-on face, and the yellow plastic garbage bag cape marked with the electrical tape "Fu." The children recognized the jeans, noticed which teacher was missing, and put two and two together.
That, and when she tripped quite severely on her way out from behind the curtain, her head box came off a little, revealing most of her face. Next time, I hope Fu-chan remembers to cut out eye holes.
Fu-chan showed us her dance. Or actually, she meant to, but her temporary box blindness disoriented her so much that the vigorous greeting wave she gave almost knocked her to the floor. She never recovered her balance and was carefully escorted off stage left, but not before quickly telepathing her top secret Tofu Dance Moves to one of the other teachers. The dance began.
I couldn't follow the words on the song's recording exactly, it was sung at the usual high pitch. Something about tofu, and the dance was mostly interpretive. Tofu makes you strong, the dance moves told me, tofu makes you healthy, tofu can be big, tofu can be small. After several run-throughs, the kids sat back down. Fu-chan was long gone, but the teacher with similar jeans was back. A teacher congratulated the kids on their dance success, and told them now their faces all looked a little more like tofu. She seemed to believe this a good thing. The kids all pinched their cheeks, and were astonished. It was true!