By KUMIKO NAKATSUKA/ Staff Writer
December 2, 2021 at 07:00 JST
AMAGASAKI, Hyogo Prefecture--A city-run elementary school’s decision to give its pupils an early start to sex education resulted in a novel approach: toilet paper in restrooms adorned with explanations on topics such as menstruation, ejaculation and other bodily functions.
The idea behind the strategy at the Mizudo Elementary School here is to broaden the children’s horizons on issues ranging from sexual diversity and consent to what constitutes sexual violence, through casual phrases and illustrations.
“Learning about one’s own body means valuing oneself and others at the same time,” said Chika Kojima, the school’s principal. “That is essential in terms of human rights education.”
The school held a ceremony Nov. 9 to mark the introduction of 400 toilet paper rolls created by Nanase Tsuruta, head of a group called Sowledge in Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture, who developed the unusual educational material in 2019.
Donations covered the costs of the toilet rolls.
Tsuruta said the design of the paper rolls was based on the expert advice of doctors and other specialists in sex education in line with UNESCO’s international technical guidance on sexuality education.
Tsuruta, 26, is only too well aware of the perils of a child being exposed to unwelcome sexual advances. She recalled that she was touched inappropriately on a street by a stranger in her junior high school days and was terrified. But she felt unable to talk about the incident in detail to others.
In her university days, a friend confided that she ha been a victim of sexual violence. In another case, a female student had an unwanted pregnancy and, as a result, abandoned the dead infant on the campus.
Those experiences steered Tsuruta into trying to find ways to help those confronted by hardships due to their lack of knowledge on sexual matters.
Seeking to provide a basic sex education in daily life, Tsuruta hit upon the idea of designing toilet rolls with explanations and illustrations to teach others how to protect their bodies.
Her idea is that those in restrooms can peruse a roll in a stall with nobody watching them. An added benefit of placing that kind of material in a public facility is that it may also prove helpful to those who are not particularly interested, she said.
According to Tsuruta, Mizudo Elementary School is the first at that level in Japan to introduce the toilet paper on a wide scale, although some operators of junior highs and after-school child-care centers have made roll purchases.
After Tsuruta gave training lectures to staff of the Amagasaki city government, the municipality decided to incorporate the toilet roll design into its “sex education for children to ensure they are properly informed on such issues to help them safeguard their rights.”
Tsuruta, who relocated to Amagasaki this past August, welcomed the move, saying she thought it was vital that children start learning about sex education while still in elementary school.
She vowed to accelerate her efforts to spread the use of the material.
A package of four toilets rolls is available on Sowledge’s website (https://sowledge.org/) from 2,980 yen ($26). Organizations as well as individuals can make purchases.
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Haruki Murakami and other writers read from books before selected audiences at the new Haruki Murakami Library.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.