Have Japanese children lost their playing fields in last 40-50 years?

   Aboy’s first memory is a TV broadcast of the Apollo No.11 moon landing. He watched it at his family’s tiny house. Actually, some Americans called a Japanese house “a rabbit hatch” at that time. The house was always noisy because his family ran a business downstairs. Aboy was a student of a private elementary school. He liked playing a baseball at the school ground. In the summer, he went with his friends to a river nearby the town to ride on the floating timber. They loved the dangerous activity; No adult warned them not to do it. One day, walking to the school, Aboy found an empty property. A signboard said it was construction site, but it seemed not to begin soon. Having entered into the land, he found a big earthen pipe. Looking inside, he recognized there was a small space where a children could lie on. After he had crawled into the earthen pipe, he opened his favorite book and began to read it. The place was a paradise for him. Nobody bothered him; No pearents shouted loudly. After then, he sometimes dropped at the land. He could enjoy peaceful reading there for a while.

A few years later, one of Aboy’s friends died. Riding on the floating timber by himself, he fell into the river and drowned. His parents brought a law suit against the local government for failing to oversee the river. The school prohibited the students from playing near the river. By the time Aboy went on to the junior high school, Japan’s rapid economic growth had begun. One day, walking by the land where he had often enjoyed the reading, Aboy recognized that it was surrounded with a fence. The construction of big buildings had already started. He could no more enter the land and see the comfortable earthen pipe there.

   Aboy was me. Almost of my life overlapped with the history of Japan’s economic growth. Although we have gotten an affluent society in the last 50years, I’m afraid that many Japanese children, including Aboy, have lost their playing fields. As described above, it has been due to the increase of law suits, the frequency of building constructions, and the changing environments for children. Most people my age would agree that it is unfortunate for the modern children to lose their playing fields and that they should be kept in order to ensure their healthy growth. But how can we do that? Some people insist that a local government should build an artificial playing field such as a natural park for the children. Others insist that, putting aside books and games, parents should encourage their children to play outside. I used to agree with both opinions, but now I can’t support them.

   A children is a genius of play. The parents should trust their children’s capacities. If a boy is in an unknown place, the boy should be able to find his own playing field. Modern children can find out their playing fields in, for example, the internet games. Although I’m not sure about that field, I’ve heard that some Internet games are devised to play with multiple participants. So the children might be able to learn how to cooperate with others by playing the game. To be honest, I’m starting to think that the idea that modern children had lost their playing fields is just old man’s sentimental misapprehension. In fact, Japanese children never really lost their playing fields.

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