It’s a hara-maki. Because despite the fact that Japanese (honshu) summers are HOT and HUMID, it is a dangerous, awful thing to allow your stomach to get chilled, and it must be covered at all times.
This is an old-fashioned garment, and Kintaro in your example is always shown wearing one. But on the other hand, wrapping your stomach up still persists. In the kids departments there are numerous garments for making sure the join between trousers and top is always covered. Most of them these days are stretchy towelling tubes.
Pregnant women get nagged all the time and are constantly exhorted to wrap their bellies so the fetus doesn’t get chilled. I found this painfully annoying when I was very fat in the heat of the summer and old biddies would literally rush up to me in the supermarket and start tugging at my T-shirt and scolding me for not wearing socks. People I had never seen before in my life, mind you…
And the baby thing in Hokkaido is WIERD. So long as their middles are wrapped like sausages, you can carry a baby outside with no hat or socks, in subzero temperatures…
On the other hand this must be very cultural because WHAT IS that American obsession with little knit hats on newborns in hospital??? Hospitals are bloody hot! And you often see pictures of a totally naked newborn but that ubiqitous pink and blue striped white hat plonked on top of them!
This doesn’t happen in Japan or England and the babies don’t die - so clearly it’s unnecessary but it makes people feel better. Same with the stomach wrapping in Japan, and… probably something else in England but I can’t think what just now!
I’ve worked as an RN in multiple hospitals for the first 18 years of my career, and every single one of them was freezing cold - so much so that I -always- took a sweater or a scrub jacket to work with me to put on, no matter what the season or weather. It was common for nurses to grab blankets off the linen cart to wrap around them while they charted at the nurse’s station. Trust me, those babies need those hats!
Nah, the hospitals here are freezing. They have to keep piles of heated blankets around for the patients. I always sort of got the impression that they felt it was more hygenic or something to never turn the heat on.
Most American babies don’t wear hats outside the hospital unless it’s actually kind of cold.
Air conditioning is run a lot in hot parts of the US because these parts are often humid as well, and AC dries the air. I admit, however, that this doesn’t explain Arizona (actually, I don’t think anything explains Arizona ). Also, if the air gets too cold, you can always put on clothes, but there are natural and legal limits to how much clothing you can take off when it’s hot.
I don’t know what the reason for this is, but I for one love it. I’m most comfortable when the ambient temperature indoors is about 17C. My routine work visits to Japan are torturous because of this – they even heat the trains.