When I was small, I used to take bath with one of my parents. Some days with my mother and some days with my father (it’s a very common practice in Japan). My mother was very practical and didn’t allow me to play in the bathtub much, but my father did, and I always looked forward to my bath time when my father was in charge.
There was one thing that I always did whenever I took bath with my father – to concoct a special potion.
I usually finished washing first and played in the bathtub while my father was washing in the washing area. When he started washing his hair with shampoo, I always reached out to his head and scooped up a cupful of the bubbles saying
“Excuse me, but I’m collecting the key ingredient for my potion.”
I had a little toy bucket in which I mixed water and the shampoo bubbles collected from the top of my father’s head. Then I put the final product into a small plastic medicine bottle. I called this potion Jin-jin-cho.
“Do you have any pain in your body? Would you like to try my Jin-jin-cho, Daddy?”
My father’s answer was always no, saying he didn’t quite trust this potion, but I offered it anyway.
I never knew how I came up with such a strange name as Jin-jin-cho, but my father believes it was named after the medication called digoxin my little brother used to take for his heart condition. The plastic medication bottle that I was using as a toy was also from some of my brother’s spare bottles.
“But I don’t think Jin-jin-cho was named after digoxin. They sound quite different!”
I once challenged my father. But he was convinced of his theory.
“Yes, it was. It was named after your brother’s medication.”
And his face would become thoughtful.
Whatever the origin of the name was, Jin-jin-cho was a funny legendary potion that once existed in our family bathtub and provided a memorable ritual between the little girl and her father.