Published On: Tue, May 26th, 2015

Rituals For New Born Babies in Japan

There are some fascinating ways of welcoming the new born across the world. We in this article will discuss how a new born is welcomed in Japan. Japan is an old country and it has many traditions and customs. The rich cultural heritage of Japan can be seen in the traditions that people follow there even today. There are a lot of unique traditions in Japan that can be associated with welcoming the new born.

The Cord 

New Born Rituals Japan

New Born Rituals Japan

The common tradition in Japan is to preserve the umbilical cord. In Japan the mothers carefully store the umbilical cord of the baby. The cords are carefully kept in a wooden box and they are gifted to the mothers when they leave the hospitals. It does sound weird. The box is generally decorated and sometimes you can also find a wooden doll inside wearing a kimono. The Kimono can be removed from the doll and the umbilical cord can be wrapped in it.

You must be wondering how this custom started and what it might be signifying. Well it is said that preserving the umbilical cord will ensure that the mother and child shares a positive relationship till the time this umbilical cord is preserved. Nowadays many parents preserve the umbilical cord for medical purpose but this tradition is definitely a strange one. The mothers cherish these and show them to the child when they have grown up. It is strange that this custom is followed even till date when umbilical cord banking is becoming more and more popular.

Name Giving

Another ceremony that is associated with the birth of a baby in Japan is the naming ceremony. This is the first ceremony of the baby and it is celebrated with a lot of excitement. This ceremony usually takes place a week after the baby is born. This is called Oshichiya. This ceremony usually happens in the presence of a Buddhist priest. The priest is usually called to bless the child and ensure that positive vibes surround the baby. The baby is named in this ceremony. The close relatives and friends of the parents usually attend this ceremony. The baby is made to wear white clothes in this ceremony. The colour white is a symbol of purity in Japanese culture.  The babies in Japan are mostly named on their grandparents. The babies are presented with an ornamental plate in this ceremony that has their names written on it. These plates are called shodos. These plates are placed on all around the walls.

17th Day Celebrations

Another tradition in Japan is done on the seventeenth day of the child’s birth. The Japanese belive that the children are God’s messenger and are very pure. They are considered as a part of God itself. This is why the new born babies are made to wear only white till they become seventeen days old. After they complete seventeen days they are actually considered as children and they are made to wear different coloured clothes. This is also a significant and interesting ritual of Japan that is associated with the birth of a child.

In Japan the babies are generally born in the house of the maternal grandparents. The mothers spend the last few months of pregnancy and the months post delivery in the house of their parents. The grandmother takes the whole responsibility of looking after the child and the mother. Sometimes the grandparents also have to take the financial costs too. The mothers usually stay at their parent’s place till one month after delivery.

Shinto Shrine Darshan

Religion and temples hold a prominent position in Japanese culture. Taking the babies to the closest Shinto shrine is considered as a very special celebration in Japan. Omiyamairis is the ceremony in Japan when the babies are taken to these shrines for the first time. For this ritual the boys must be thirty one days and the girls must be thirty three days old. This is a general rule but in some parts of Japan the age of taking the baby to the shrine might be different. The babies are made to wear traditional clothes. Kimonos are made for the babies as they are taken to the Shinto shrine. The aim of this ritual is to make the babies aware of the positive spirits that surround them. The close friends and families are invited for this special day. The invitees bless the child. The babies get many gifts on this day.

Food, Food, Food

In Japan the usual gifts that a baby is given is food items. The friends and family of the baby gifts them with food items. Gifting food items signify giving power to the babies. So you will see that people in Japan gift a lot of food items to the new born babies. This is a strange custom indeed as across the world new born babies are showered with toys, clothes and other items.

The Humorous Labour

Another common ritual in Japan is done during the parturition time. This ritual is not common any more. In this the pain and discomfort of labour is made fun of. Too much of screaming during labour is considered a sign of humiliation for a woman. In the olden days the mid wives were a part of this tradition. This ensured that the mothers would try to control their pain as much as they can during labour. However, with the change in time today even fathers can enter the labour room to support their wives. This is a ritual that is associated with the birth of the baby itself.  This tradition is not very common now in the cities but maybe in some rural areas it is still common. This is indeed a very strange ritual.

We hope that this article on rituals for new born in Japan will help you to understand the traditions and culture of Japan better. Most of these rituals are followed even today. These are just ways of celebrating the birth of a new life and familiarising the baby with the culture of Japan.

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