How do you say 'helicopter' in Japanese?

Japanese parents have a lot of trouble letting go of mommy’s little boy and daddy’s little girl when they go off to university. They tend to go with them, reports Asahi Shimbun.

Officials at universities across the country are flabbergasted at the level of pampering some parents bestow on their children.

For example, a phone rings at a university staff room and the person who picks it up is stunned to hear the caller ask:

“Could you tell when and where we can buy textbooks?”

The call is not from a student; it’s from a parent.

Commenters at GaijinPot observe that as Japanese parents have fewer children, universities have to lower their standards to fill their seats. Pampered, passive students have a better chance of getting into college.

About Joanne


  1. We were told at college parent meetings that we were not allowed to call and even ask about our children. It was time for them to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. I never thought about calling concerning grades, but it was tough to let go and realize that the curfews were gone. I do think that parents get by with more today since helicopter parents seem to be everywhere.

  2. Charles R. Williams says:

    In the US colleges and universities no longer act in loco parentis and they will not accept responsibility for the mistakes that immature 18 year-olds are bound to make. Add to this the costly consequences of poor advising and the enormous investment that students and parents are making. Parents must be involved.

    Parents however are focusing on the wrong things. Surely, an 18 year old can find the bookstore and get the textbooks he needs. A little advice about shopping for used textbooks on the internet,though, could save a student a lot of money.

    The real issue is the damaging moral environment at the typical American college and how an 18 year old can navigate it. Here university administrations are a big part of the problem.

  3. BadaBing says:


  4. I lived in Japan for three years. It would be rendered:


  5. ヘリコプター (herikoputaa).

    This phenomenon is the natural extension of the kyoiku mama phenomenon at the preuniversity level:

    Why stop managing your child’s education when they turn 18?

    I suspect the type of parent described in the article is less common than the kyoiku mama. The unusual get more attention.

    The real scandal is the quality of Japanese universities. Having attended a Japanese university, I recommend Brian McVeigh’s Japanese Higher Education as Myth:

    Two personal anecdotes that counter the myth of Japan as super education nation:

    – One professor got irritated by his passive students, saying to them, why can’t you be more like the two Americans in the class (namely, me and another exchange student)?

    – This same class had about five students all semester (the two Americans plus three Japanese). But when the final exam began, twenty-odd other students I had never seen before showed up. They didn’t stay long; unable to answer the essay question (no multiple choice), most gave up quickly.

    Random quote from a Japanese junior college instructor (McVeigh, p. 205):

    “Some of these female students will plunk down Y50,000 for a Louis Vuitton bag but complain when you ask them to buy a Y1,200 textbook for class.”

    McVeigh calls Japanese university education “simulated schooling.” If the schooling isn’t “real,” is it surprising that students don’t take it seriously? Let mommy take care of the textbooks. It’s not as if her not-so-little boy will actually read them …

  6. Amritas, I had no idea.