Baby Milestones

O-Shichiya & Meimei-shiki – Japanese Baby Naming Tradition

April 8, 2017

O-Shichiya & Meimei-shiki – Japanese Baby Naming Tradition

In Japan, a Register of Birth (出生届, shussei todoke) must be submitted by the time a baby is 14 days old. By this time, a baby’s name must be decided.

Before the Register of Birth is submitted and a baby’s name formally registered at a municipal office, it is tradition in Japan to have a naming ceremony, meimei-shiki, (命名式)  during o-shichiya (お七夜), a baby’s 7th night of life.

O-Shichiya is celebrated in hopes that the baby will grow up in good health. It is said that this custom has its origins in the Heian Period whereby giving a child a name was a step in recognize them as a new member of society.

The baby’s name is written on a special sheet of paper called a meimei-sho (命名書) which can be purchased at stationary shops throughout Japan. Meimei-sho ften feature oranes, a symbol of longevity. Modern meimei-sho often feature cute imagery or cartoon characters.

The baby’s name is then revealed to family members at O-Shichiya. I suppose it’s the Japanese version of the now popular “gender reveal.”

Our daughter’s name was decided months before she was born. Therefore, we didn’t have much to formally reveal to family members. Still, I personally wanted to experience this unique part of Japanese culture.

Still, it was important for the in-laws, so seven days after baby was born (2 days after leaving the hospital), my father-in-law came to Tokyo (MIL was already here). He has wonderful handwriting, so he had the honors of writing baby’s name.

O-Shichiya & Meimei-shiki – Japanese Baby Naming Tradition

Check out other Japanese Celebrations for Baby:

Okuizome – An Elaborate Feast for Baby

O-Miya Mairi – Taking Baby to a Shrine

Inu no Hi – A Shrine Visit for Pregnant Women

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