Three months after the birth of my daughter, we celebrated o-kuizome (お食い初め), baby’s first meal. It is done in hopes that a baby will have no difficulty in procuring food in his/her lifetime.
O-kuizome is a major milestone that comes right after Omiyamari: Baby’s First Photo Shoot and Shrine Visit.
Back in the day, extended relatives and family friends attended a baby’s o-kuizome. In recent days, it’s done just with parents and grandparents. Some modern families now even do o-kuizome as an event just for parents and baby.
As with o-miya mairi, the exact date may vary by region. You can celebrate it when a baby is 100 days old or even as late as 110 or 120 days after birth.
In our case, we planned to visit the in-laws during Golden Week, and they wanted to have baby’s o-kuizome at that time. When Golden Week approached, baby was around 90 days old, so we weren’t too far off the mark.
My in-laws prepared a very elaborate feast for such a tiny baby. Little Kaiju had several types of foods to be “eat” with special celebratory chopsticks (祝箸iwaibashi).
The foods prepared follow the washoku formula of “one soup, three dishes” (一汁三菜 ichijuu sansai). Soup (吸い物 suimono), fish (魚sakana) stewed dish (煮物 niimono), pickled vegetables (香の物 kounomo) and rice (赤飯 sekihan).
The fish is intact because tai, or sea bream, is a play on o-medetai, a celebratory word. Of course, a baby can’t eat any of these foods, so o-kuizome is in fact a wonderful photo op for family members as they try to “feed” baby. I’ve seen that after the “feeding,” parents offer a smooth rock to the baby. Its purpose is to promote strong and healthy teeth; in our case, no such rock was available.
O-kuizome was a wonderful opportunity to experience Japanese culture and I look forward to the next event: her half-birthday!