Squid Sushi

People around the world use various memory aids to remember important information. When I was a third grader taking piano lessons, I learned “Every Good Boy Does Fine” to remember the names of the five lines on the treble clef (E-G-B-D-F). The four spaces were even easier (F-A-C-E).

In the US, some children are taught to handle dangerous situations by remembering the short rhyme:


(Say no, run away, yell as loud as you can, and tell an adult what happened as soon as possible.)

The other day on a bicycle ride I happened across a sign posted on a neighborhood fence with the Japanese version of this. The simple mnemonic is Squid Sushi, and the fun illustration makes it doubly memorable! The way to say the mnemonic is:

Ika no o sushi

Ika (ee kah – “squid”) no (“no” is a connecting word that functions somewhat like a possessive apostrophe in English) o sushi (a polite “oh” followed by “sushi”)

Here’s the translation of the phrases on the sign based on the mnemonic:

(If it’s someone I don’t know . . .)
Ikanai – I won’t go

(If it’s a strange car)
Noranai – I won’t get in

(If something happens)
Oki na koe o dasu – I will yell loudly

Sugu nigeru – I will immediately run away

(An adult . . .)
Shiraseru – I will tell

In Japan, peer pressure and the reduced availability of dangerous weapons (it is illegal for the average citizen to possess a handgun, for example) are undoubtedly two key reasons for the reduced incidence of crime that so impressed the world after last year’s tsunami.

But as Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (NIV)

So even though crime is reduced, it definitely exists. Just like parents everywhere, parents in Japan are concerned about the safety of their children.