Of Anpanman, the rest of the world would probably say “What-man is that again?” But for Japanese, most would probably admit to having an affinity for this cartoon character at one point in their life. Why? Because Anpanman is the face of early Japanese childhood.

This is how big Anpanman is, that odd superhero most recognizable for his oversized emoji-looking head with a huge, circle-red nose squeezed in by two equally-sized orange cheek balls. Odd because he is a superhero that people can eat, but that’s how he helps people in need; hence the name “bean bread man”, the literal translation for Anpan (or ankopan) – man. And, if only for a quick lesson on basic Japanese pastries, it would help to know Anpanman’s other super friends, as their faces resemble the breads that bakeries sell and make to this day.

For Uri, who is now a little over five and a half, Anpanman has become “baby-ish” and is no longer his choice for school items, of which Anpanman has tons, probably even more than what the Disney world can offer.

We were okay with his change in preference; the problem was that he still had a few Anpanman items: some packets of face masks that we had bought last year.

Mottainai, I don’t want to waste the masks,” I told our little-big boy when he said that he did not want to wear the “baby-ish” stuff anymore. Our talk was not without his I’m-more-mature-now statements to support his dislike of the Anpanman mask, but he politely said, “Okay.”

Mask after mask, packet after packet, Uri would say, “Daddy, you know, I really hate this mask.” Still, he would wear them, and then off we would go to his youchien. Then came the day when, after getting his mask for the day, he noticed that it was the last Anpanman packet.

Uri is saying goodbye to Anpanman and learning a valuable life lesson.

“Daddy,” he excitedly shouted, “it’s the last Anpanman packet!”

Uri began to count what was left of his most hated stock. “One, two, three. Three more days, and I’m done with my Anpanman masks!  Yey yey yey!” Yes, little man, you’re soon graduating on your lesson to not waste – to not be mottainai.

Congratulations, you have done really well.