Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate baby's first (non-milk) meal

Loretta
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Originally I thought this enquiry might be premature, but the more I think about it the more I realise that I'm probably making my initial questions at just the right time.

A baptism/Christening is not appropriate for our little one and I've recently learned about okui-zome.

What I'd be very grateful for is any advice or suggestions in order to replicate this tradition outside of Japan (it's very likely that our baby's 100th day will coincide with Christmas - which, although harder to organise, would be perfect as I'll be in Spain then and more of my family can take part)

Basically, if you were to make an okuizome feast in Europe what would you include?
Are there any items you'd ask to be sent to you from Japan?
Do you know anything about the pebbles used?
Any other hints, tips or observations?

As well as viewing this as a tradition where an important event is commemorated (and few things are as momentous as the first steps on a person's lifelong culinary journey!) I see this not only as a way to introduce our child to relatives and friends, but as a way to introduce elements of our child's culture to these relatives - many of whom will play such a vital role in her life. This is why I don't want to muddle along and make up my own imagined version of an okui-zome but aim for as much authenticity as possible.

For anyone interested, here's a link showing the Google images that relate to okuizome
http://images.google.co.jp/images?hl=ja&q=%E3%81%8A%E9%A3%9F%E3%81%84%E5...

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maki
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Hi Loretta; I would try contacting Japan Centre, or your local Japan Society in London, to see if they know of anything. It actually may be a regional thing, because I can't remember any of my family conducting such a ceremony (my family are all from the Tokyo/Saitama area).

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Loretta
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Thanks, that's a good idea. I'll be going to a talk on sashiko stitching at the Japan Society later this month so I can make enquiries there.

maki
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More about okuizome

Okay, I remembered to ask my mother about this finally. I didn't know much about it because I don't have kids! Anyway, this is what she says -

Okuizome (お食い初め, literally meaning 'first eating') is just a small little ceremony where a baby is given a little bit of food, symbolically - it can just be a grain or (cooked) rice or whatever is available. The baby can't actually eat food at that stage of course, so it's just for show. The significance of it is just to hope that the baby will never go hungry throughout his/her life. Some people will make ready a little feast for the baby; some will just have a bowl of rice. It's usually done when the baby is around 100 days old, but can really be done at any time. Also, it's usually done at home, so no need to find a temple or shrine or anything!

Hope that helps! I guess it's not as mysterious if you think of it like baptisms and circumcisions and such for babies in the West (which to Japanese people are just as exotic). My mother also says that it's rather a dying custom, though things like shigosan are still very popular. (where children are dressed up and taken to a Shinto shrine for blessings and such at age 3, 5, or 7 - 3 and 7 for girls, 5 for boys)

Loretta
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Thanks so much for asking about this Maki!

(I didn't get a chance to ask at the Japan Society as the talk about Sashiko was so fascinating so we concentrated on that - much of it about a way of life that has almost disappeared but which the lecturer had found living echoes of on Sado island... I digress)

The more I learn about Okuizome the more it seems like the ideal occasion to 'introduce' our baby to friends and family - but it also should allow us to introduce a part of her culture to these guests also. I imagine that the 'show' food will be eaten by the grown ups (except for the pebbles!). It's kind of a relief to find out that we don't have to make it a particularly formal occasion and nor do we need to worry too much about doing things the wrong way.

Just like keeping the umbilical cord, I think it's a lovely tradition and hope I can play my own part in preserving it.
(It's certainly less daunting - and expensive - than the shichi-go-san presentations, particularly as we'll be faced with a 3 & 7 double helping! Here's the father in his 5 outfit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_n1sjt7SfiAw/SlR_y7HR6DI/AAAAAAAAAYA/YwNEMJtlhd...)

bronwyncarlisle
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

That photo is SO cute!

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maki
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shichigosan

Here's me at my 3-year shichigosan with my late grandmother (wasn't in Japan when i was 7 unfortunately)

maki_753_w_obachan.jpg

maki
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and another shichigosan!

And here's my niece, at her 7 year old shichigosan (last year...now she's a grown-up 8 year old!)

renachan_shichigosan.jpg

bronwyncarlisle
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Cuteness all round!

Loretta
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Brilliant! - What a wonderful 3-5-7 collection! I get to have a whole set on this one thread :D

Maki looks adorable and her niece was already such a beautiful and elegant young lady. (And you have no idea about how much I've been coveting your grandmother's haori-kimono-obi combination - ever since you first posted this photo. Your mon patterned furisode is a real treasure and the little waistcoat and hand-bag are perfect accessories)

I've kept myself willfully ignorant about the goodies in those long bags - just three years to go before I get to see the contents for myself!

Loretta
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What do do with the mochi? - can you help?

Hello again, I could really do with a little assistance on this.
The event is nearly upon us, I can't believe how quickly time has flown since I first created this thread!!!

Turns out that our daughter's Okuizome will coincide with Christmas Day.
This involves the additional challenge of preparing the feast at a relative's kitchen amongst the chaos that preparing a traditional Christmas meal inevitably entails (also I can't use my right hand/wrist very well, but that's another saga...).
To make it even more challenging, I need to transport everything I need from England to Spain and as I'll be arriving there on the 24th December, there's no room for error. I won't be able to buy anything I've forgotten (thankfully, I can ask my parents to get things like the fish in advance as they are already in Alicante).

Grandfather came to London from Japan a few weeks ago and brought with him this Okuizome set:
http://www.utuwabiyori.com/okuizome/zen04_detail.html
Which is really lovely.

As well as the set itself there are some pebbles... and also a piece of mochi - a food item I've not seen in any photos or descriptions of an Okuizome menu.

To be honest, I really don't know what I should be doing with the mochi. ???
There's a bowl that's intended for the rice and azuki beans
labelled 親碗(飯椀) - 赤飯 または白飯 - φ8.5cm×6cm(高さ)
Is the mochi an alternative to the boiled rice dish?
If it is, that would make the Okuizome preparation much easier... except I don't know how to actually best cook the mochi for this.
If anyone can help, I'd appreciate it so much.

It's a real kerfuffle organising this event at Christmas, but I have to admit I'm very pleased that it does coincide with a time when most of the family are together (this is getting rarer and rarer). It's also wonderful that the eldest member of the family will be with her great-granddaughter to give her her first 'taste' of food, I'm sure the photos will always be treasured.

maki
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Loretta, a quick Google shows that the mochi is probably just an alternative to the rice, or a supplement, or a regional thing. (Is it white and pink/red by any chance? That's a festive or lucky color combo as you probably know.) The pebbles are supposed to be touched to the baby's mouth to symbolize a wish for her (or him) to have teeth strong enough to crush them. I've also seen mention of including umeboshi in the meal, to symbolize a wish for the child to life long enough to become as wrinkly as one.

You seem to be very much into these traditions...so...I wish you good luck when it's time to put together a hina set for your daughter ^_^; (Growing up in a famiy with three daughters, that was THE most important annual ceremony for us.)

Loretta
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Mochi

Thanks for responding, Maki (I can only imagine how busy you must be at the moment - and preoccupied, I hope so much your mum's health improves soon)
The mochi is a small rectangular tablet, the usual cream colour, it doesn't look celebratory at all.
To be honest, I'm not really sure what to do with it. If I don't substitute it for the Osekihan http://www.justhungry.com/2006/03/japanese_basics.html I'm wondering whether I should serve it with the soup.
Thing is, I'm rather wary of mochi and don't really know how to prepare it.
Thankfully, unless he's called away to collect donor organs, I'll have my paramedic uncle on hand should anyone choke on the unfamiliar food.

And yes, I am looking forward to our young lady growing up and finding out what kind if hina set she'd like. If I'm REALLY lucky she might decide on an origami court :D.
(Do you think there's any chance that Re-ment will release the ... actually, I JUST googled and found this
http://www.blastmilk.com/dolls_toys/japanese_figures/rement_hinamatsuri_...
Anyone have any tips on how I -or grandfather- can get hold of these? It seems they will be released imminently - and I won't have internet access for a couple of weeks after the 24th)
EDIT - seems I have just bought the re-ment hina matsuri set!
A bargain at 3,000yen
Thanks again, Maki! If you hadn't mentioned it I wouldn't have searched and certainly wouldn't have known about it until it was too late. We can have fun as a family making the display mount for it!

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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Maki-san was sooooo cute, her niece too.

On another little thing... Why are red and white so popular for festivities? I've noticed that those colors seem to pop up everywhere. Miko wear them, there's the azuki beans and rice, taiyaki, azuki daifuku, Japan's flag, rice and pickled plums, Narutomaki, etc...

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maki
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Re: Okuizome outside of Japan - a ceremony to celebrate ...

Well I am not sure why, but red and white are traditionally used for festivities. Also, teams are often divided into the 'red' team and the 'white' team at sports festivals and the like (not to mention the NHK Kouhaku (red and white) Song Contest on New Year's Eve...)

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