November 29, 2009


Shichi-Go-San,which means “seven, five and three” in Japanese, is a traditional rite of passage in Japan for three and seven year-old girls and three and five year-old boys. It is held annually on November 15 (or observed on the closest weekend) and marked by families visiting Buddhist shrines to pray for the healthy growth of their children. Boys wear hakama jackets and traditional rigid pants, while girls dress up in beautiful kimono. Many kids apparently wear Western clothes, too. The shrine visit is intended to drive out evil spirits and pray for a long and healthy life. Many, many photos are taken. Here are two of ours.

One of Naomi’s relatives gave us this gorgeous kimono for Elena, who is fast approaching her third birthday.

Naomi and her Mom got the Rising Daughter all dressed up in her “Sunday best” and they went to our favorite local shrine. I really like this photo of her strolling under the torii gates. On another note...
Another holiday went by last week--Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Day (November 23). So this public holiday fell around the same as American Thanksgiving. It got me to thinking: why hasn’t US-style Thanksgiving taken root in Japan? Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day have become popular as secular events here. Why not Thanksgiving? The official Japanese version of the holiday marks an ancient rice harvest festival, so the basic idea is the same, i.e. giving thanks for a successful harvest and expressions of gratitude. But this national holiday seems to have been put no real contemporary use beyond taking a day off work. Hmm.

Then, the reason hit me: kitchen ovens. Most Japanese kitchens do not have enough space for an oven large enough to cook turkeys. And no such cooking tradition came about because there are no native fowl that Japanese people like to eat.

I would welcome this nation embracing Thanksgiving, with all the gustatory trimmings, if only to postpone Christmas decorations going up in malls in early November. And picture this:
“More gravy for your sushi?”
“Please pass the wasabi for my mashed potatoes.”

I really enjoy this whole cross-cultural fusion thing we’ve got going over here!

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