All About Japan

Shimajiro Teaches Potty Protocol


Shima Shima Tora no Shimajiro was an anime series aimed at preschoolers that ran from 1993 to 2008, making it one of the longest-running series of all time. The titular tiger, Shimajiro, is the official mascot of Benesse, the massive education enterprise that also owns Berlitz Language Schools.

In this episode, Shimajiro's parents encourage their preschool tiger through his first adult toilet attempt. On one level, the proceedings are completely ridiculous; on another, it's a great reminder of how surprisingly open Japan can be about bodily functions, especially with children (not to mention adults who've had a few too many drinks).

When little Shimajiro notices that his stomach feels tickly, his mom encourages him to recall that it's a sign he has to pee. The personified toilet then invites him to sit down while his unflaggingly supportive parents become an on-site cheerleading team, essentially leading him through a "let's pee" song.

After that, it's not long before Shimajiro's bottom feels wiggly. Dad encourages him to remember what that means, and back to the toilet we go! The result is marked by an expanded celebration, concluding with a congratulatory pair of underwear. Shimajiro then invites the watching children to learn how to use the adult potty, too, so they can all become "Underwear Men" like him.

In the ensuing product placement—this is where Benesse makes its millions—the little Shimajiro toy on the toilet paper roll asks the boy if he has to do number one or number two. The boy proudly declares his intent, delivers a very expressive result, then hits the red button to get a fanfare to mark the occasion—just like Shimajiro!