So my seventh graders are covering a unit in the book which talks about how the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco isn’t golden. From my extensive nannying experience and all of the kids’ books I read to my charges, I know that the official color of the bridge is, “International Orange.” But every year when the teacher asks the students, “What color is the bridge?” they all say, “Red.” I stand there politely and don’t say anything because, well, in Japan it is rude to contradict someone and this isn’t a make it or break it aspect of the English language. This week, however, the teacher turned to me and asked
“What color is the bridge?”
I hesitated a moment. “Orange.”
This is translated to the students, who all begin exclaiming about how the bridge is clearly red. Then the teacher turns back to me:
“What color is the sun?”
“In the middle of the day? Or at the end of the day?”
“What color is the sun when a child draws it in a picture?”
This is translated back to the students, who gasp. It’s time for me to ask a question:
“What color is the sun when a Japanese child draws it?”
The class was polled. Two girls used to make their suns yellow, one boy made it orange, and the other 16, yeah, they had red suns in their childhood drawings.
And for the first time in my 31 years I understand why “The Land Of The Rising Sun” has a big RED dot in the middle of their flag.