In November of the year when daughters in Japan turn seven, it’s a tradition for their families to dress them in kimonos and take them to a shrine. The year of their third birthday is also marked, and boys are especially honored in the fifth year. The Japanese shorthand for the tradition is 753 (shichigosan).
Our twins turned seven this year. We didn’t take them to a shrine, although our friends invited us to bring them to a church service just for kids. Then we took them to a photo studio that specializes in kimono pictures. This video documents that experience.
In recent years, the Japanese have added the tradition of dressing their daughters in “princess” dresses as well. Sure, it’s another Western incursion, but we went for the whole nine yards. We were there for three hours. I took 200+ pictures, more than one per minute. I edited those down to 45 for this video.
I recommend watching in HD, or download the video from YouTube for (by far) the best results. BTW, here is a photo I took of Reia on the same occasion two years ago.
Japanese hip-hop dancers competing
I was wandering in Yoyogi Park, near Harajuku Station, last weekend and heard the sound of hip-hop music emanating from a crowd across the street. Crossing over I found a thousand or more people participating in a hip-hop festival called “BBoy Park.” Groups were performing on the main stage, rappers were facing off under a small, packed pavilion, graffiti artists were creating pieces on plywood boards set up for the day, and hundreds of high schoolers were having a hip-hop dancing competition.
The video is in HD. If you like it, please vote 5 stars.
I climbed Mount Fuji for the 4th time Thursday night. I took a couple of exchange students from Taiwan who showed up completely unprepared. They were wearing fashionable shoes and carrying light jackets. I had some extra gear in the car, but they came late. I had to quickly decide whether to cancel or catch the train. I’m sure they could hear the frustration in my voice as I threatened to call it off, but their desire to go won me over. I called my wife who ran to the station turnstyles with some gloves, hats, and scarves, and we departed.
Climbers outside one of the mountain huts on the way up Mount Fuji
I realized later it was completely my fault. Mostly. I had assumed they would have a clue about hiking and mountains, so I had given them quick instructions over the phone: bring jackets (cold on top), wear sturdy shoes, bring food and water (very expensive to buy on the mountain), and put it all in a backpack. Nothing connected, and the listener didn’t understand the word “backpack” (in English or Japanese). I should have given them a packing list in advance, and had them meet at …
I started blogging more than five years ago. It’s amazing how quickly time passes as you get older. Reia was just a baby back then, but now she’s standing so tall and strong. Last weekend we went to our 3rd “zenkokutakai” (national competition) for Japanese kayaking kids. It’s a flatwater racing event, which is really not what our kids train for, but Reia has done well each time. This year she made it to the final, even though she’s competing against older girls (she’s a 3rd grader and the race is for 2nd – 4th grade girls). She made it to the semifinal, which was a run-off between all the girls who didn’t automatically advance. She had the fastest time going in, and when she won it was like a light came on. She’d never had that experience before — crossing the line first in a big event. It reminds me of the first time I won a race, which was a life altering moment, at least for that time.
Smiling after her win
Waiting for the final
This is a fun, zippy video of our kids’ kayaking event last weekend. If you click through and watch it in HD on the YouTube site, the quality is amazing (way to go YouTube!). Reia is #11. Her kayak is blue on top and bright yellow on bottom. She flips over a couple of times. Mari and Maika are the youngest ones, so they are riding in plastic kayaks (one yellow and the other green). The kids are really good. They start learning to roll their kayaks in the 4th grade, and one of the boys is on the Japanese Junior team with Olympic dreams. It’s been so fun letting our kids have experiences like this.