Japanese Life Time Rituals

From birth until death, through everyone's growth and experience, life time rituals are celebrated at certain points in life. They are rituals of celebration which one realizes his/her growth in life and make more of their lives and be inspired by it.

OBI-IWAI (Obi Celebration)

When one's pregnancy is for certain, pregnant women would put on a stomach band in fifth month of her pregnancy on the Dog day (dog; one of the twelve hoary signs) of the month. From this day pregnant mothers prepare for delivery caring for their bodies.

They select the Dog's day because to be lucky dog's safe delivery.

SHICHIYA-NO-IWAI (Seventh Day Celebration)

This ritual is held on the seventh night from the baby's birth. In the morning of this day, the family of the new born baby would offer a stack of rice cake on sanbou ( a square stand made of plain wood for putting offerings to the altar) with noshi (narrow hexagon paper) displaying it in tokonoma (alcove) and celebrate with red rice.

MEIMEI (Naming of the Baby)

A document of naming is written on a thick Japanese paper by folded in half horizontally and then in three. The baby's name would be written in the center , his/her birth day and names of the parents on the left side. MIYAMAIRI (Shrine Visit)
Naming should be done within seven days after the baby's birth. Afterwards, the family would visit a tutelary deity to thank and to inform their baby's birth. In the old times, they used to give visits 120 days after birth but today, boys usually visit on the 32nd day, girls on the 33rd day.

KUIZOME (First Meal)

It has been a ritual since the Ashikaga period (14th-16th century) to pray for the child's safe growth. It is done on the 120th day after baby's birth. The baby will eat a simple Japanese meal on this day. They prayed to keep away famine from the baby. HATSUTANJOU (Baby's Second Birthday)
They let the baby carry rice cakes on his/her back. It is a ritual which the family prayed for the baby's health and strength.

SHICHIGOSAN (7th,5th,3rd Year's Celebration)

It is held on November 15th. It was fully established from the Edo period to the commons. November 15th is the harvest festival of the tutelary deity, families visit the god praying for their children's growth and at the same time, they used this occasion for the child to be recognized by the public and the gods as a member of the society.

SEIJINSHIKI (Coming-of-Age Day)

The warrior family used to call it "genpuku" and after one reaches this ritual, he/she would be recognized as an adult officially. Today, an application of the law is recognizes age 20 as an adult and this coming-of -age day is managed by the autonomy.

TOSHIIWAI (Special Birthdays)

  • Kanreki - Celebration of 60th birthday. In the old times, they counted days and years with Jikkan(lunar calendar's five weekdays)and twelve hoary years. The japanese celebrate their 60th birthday as a spcial one becouse an assortment of Jihhan and twelve boary years counts as 60 years.
  • Ko-ki- Celebration of 70th birthday. As Toho, a Chinese poet, reads in his verse "Jinsei,Nanajuu-Koki,Marenari" meaning "It is rare if one lives till seventy".
  • Ki-ju- Celebration of 77th birthday. When the Chinese character "Ki" is written in a cursive handwriting, it looks like characters of the number 77 in Japanese. The character "Ju" means "matter of celebration".
  • Bei-ju- Celebration of 88th birthday. The combination of the Chinese characters 8,10,8 means the number 88 in Japanese. When these characters are combined and reduced, they look like this; "Bei". This character has a meaning of "rice", which reads "bei".
  • Sotsu-ju- Celebration of 90th birthday. When the character of "Sotsu" is written in reduced style handwriting, it looks like combination of characters which form the number 90.
  • Haku-ju- Celebration of 99th birthday. When a line "-"the top of is taken away from "Hyaku"(hundred), the character turns out to be "Haku", which means white and it reads "haku". Also, this line "-" meaning the number one, is taken away from the number 100 "Hyaku"it would be 99.