Shiny balls of mud take Japan by storm

The latest Japanese schoolyard trend is hikaru dorodango (shiny balls of mud). Children painstakingly shape mud into near-perfect spheres, then polish them. A research scientist with an electron microscope uncovered the secret of their lustre.
In the process of making dorodango, the children demonstrated behavior that was surprising from the perspective of developmental psychology. A two-year-old child would walk behind Kayo, imitating his actions. At three, children would come up beside him and snatch his dirt. Four and five year olds pretended to ignore him out of pride, but afterwards they could be seen working with determined expressions on their faces. Children could also be found sharing information about where to find the best dirt and sand for making dorodango or even sometimes keeping such information secret. Dorodango were made famous all over Japan when public broadcaster NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) took up the phenomenon in a program aired nationally in June 2001.
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