Chibikko, baby hotelier

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"Our next guest is only 3 years old," the bubbly woman TV announcer cooed.

[cut to TV crew approaching door of resort hotel]

"Irrashaimase!" two women in komono bow to their guests in greeting.

"Irrashaimase!" a tiny voice joins in, a half a beat too late.

[camera tilts down to see Chibikko-chan, dressed in a bright yellow kimono, bowing to the arriving guests just like her mother and gransmother]

Chibikko is astonishingly well trained. She helps out all over her family's hotel--cheerfully greeting guests, which she says is her favorite task, turning slippers towards the door in the onsen's lobby and pressing the elevator buttons. She knows all the right polite phrases to say, even bowing and saysing "Go-yukuri kudasai" (Please enjoy yourself) as the elevator doors close.

In the dining room, she carefully carries trays of green tea and hot hand towels to diners. Her step is sure and she places the tray on the table exactly the right way, setting it down on the table, then sliding it into position in front of the customer.

For the benefit of the TV audience, she was sent on an errand. She took a nine minute walk alone (except for the camera crew who followed her) to the local farmer's stand. She bought two onions and asked for a receipt. The farmer tried to slip a little gift--a cucumber--into her bag, but she plucked it out and saying "No, thank you." Then she walked home, trailed by the camera crew, to give her grandmother the onions. Reward? A pat on the head. Good girl.

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