Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Okinawan First Birthday Party (Photo Essay)

Last year babies were popping out all over the Ryukyu Mike Family Tree and as summer rolled around this year they all started turning one year old.  Saturday night we finally got everyone together under one roof and had a triple, first Birthday Party, Okinawan Style.

A first birthday celebration in Okinawan culture is different from anywhere else in Japan so, I hesitate to title this post as a Japan: Insider's Tip.  Call it an Okinawa Insider's Tip, if you'd like.

The little guy with the Nike shirt will be the star on this blog post.  I have trouble remembering all the grandkid's names but, as long as he doesn't change his shirt, I won't forget him.  His name is Nike.
The Mamas and the Papas and a whole flock of kids converge in a room, or two and eat, drink and make noise just like at a family get together anywhere else in the world.  Those size tables are just right for Huskies to bend over and eat from so, it's a good thing the party wasn't at my house.


Here's where an Okinawa 1st birthday party differs from anywhere else I've ever been.  These items are placed on a tray and the one year old child will pick them up. It helps parents figure out the child's future.
There goes Nike. He grabbed a calculator first.  I must be getting old.  It used to be an abacus (soroban in Japanese) they put on the tray.  You know, one of those bead calculator things.

Then, he grabbed the scissors.  They represent a tool.  I'd have put a screwdriver there instead.

I must have blinked or somebody swiped the pen but, the next thing I saw the kid pick up was the notebook.

Look, he finally figured out what that paper thing was.  He snatched up that 1,000 yen note so fast, his hand was a blur in the photo.

Now, all we have left is a bowl of rice.  He grabbed some, too without even touching the bowl and stuffed it in his mouth.  I'm still trying to figure out what happened to the pen. 


The order in which the items were picked up by the child will be recorded and remembered throughout his life.  I'm not sure what the parents think.  It just wouldn't surprise me if this guy grows up to be a magician.

A birthday cake, singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles, along with giving presents concluded the ceremony.

Do you have anything similar to an Okinawan first birthday party in your culture ?

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