Shichi-Go-San (七五三)

Shichi-Go-San (七五三) is a milestone event that celebrates the health and well-being of three, five, and seven year old children.  Traditionally, three-year-old boys and girls, five-year-old boys, and seven-year-old girls celebrate this event, however many parents nowadays will get all their children dressed up in kimono at the same time regardless of how old they are to get family photos.  The children get dressed in kimono, take photos, and visit Shinto shrines.  The actual date of shichi-go-san is November 15, but children often get dressed up and take photos in the month before this date.

In this article, I’ll outline all the items needed for each age group, and some of the special kitsuke rules for dressing children.

Three-Year-Old Girls

Note: Both boys and girls can participate in shici-go-san, however the boys kimono at three years old is identical (but smaller and oh so cute!) to a five-year-old boy.  Because of this, portion will cover the girls kituske only. 

1. Padding: a towel should be folded in thirds and wrapped around the waist.

The completed look for a three-year-old girl.

The completed look for a three-year-old girl.

2. Nagajuban (長襦袢): This juban does not have any sleeves.  The haneri is colorful and includes children’s patterns such as rabbits and toys.  The collar should be sitting right against the neck.  girls don’t lower their collars until they are ten-years old.

3. Kimono (着物): The kimono is brightly patterned with tucks in the shoulders.  sometimes, this kimono has an ohashori sewn in at the correct height to make it easier to get dressed.

4. Obi (帯): three-year-old girls do not wear an obi.  As a substitute, a shibori obi-age can be tied around the waist in place of an obi, but it is not necessary.

5. Hifu (被布): The hifu is the apron or overcoat.  Nowadays, it is worn exclusively by three-year-old girls.

Five-Year-Old Boys

Note: girls do not traditionally celebrate shichi-go-san when they are five years old.

1. Padding: One towel should be folded in thirds and wrapped around the waist.

A juban for five-year-old boys. The lack of sleeves makes it easier to dress a squirming child.

A juban for five-year-old boys. The lack of sleeves makes it easier to dress a squirming child.

2. Nagajuban (長襦袢):  This juban does not have any sleeves. The haneri for the boys is solid white or grey (unlike the girls).  The back of the collar should be sitting right against the neck.  The koshihimo should be tied as high as possible to keep the collars in place.

3. Kimono (着物): the kimono that this studio uses for the boys are a solid color with no patterns.  tucks are sewn into the shoulders.  The koshihimo should be tied as high as possible to keep the collars in place, while still remaining hidden underneath the obi.

The obi tied in an ichimonji musubi.

The obi tied in an ichimonji musubi.

4. Obi (帯):  The boys have a choice between a pre-tied obi and a regular (albeit child-sized obi).  If a regular obi is used, it should be tied in an ichimonji musubi (very similar to a chou-chou musubi but the obi is folded in half instead of three mountains). The height of the obi should be determined by measuring the length of the hakama first.  The hakama should reach to the child’s ankles.

These hakama are pre-tied. There is a snap sewn to the back of the cross and it snaps into place at the correct height. The straps pull tight and are tied at the back underneath the hakama.

These hakama are pre-tied. There is a snap sewn to the back of the cross and it snaps into place at the correct height. The straps pull tight and are tied at the back underneath the hakama.

5. Hakama (袴):  When dealing with kids, the more tricks you can use to make things easier, the better.  Hakama, like obi, can come in tsuke (pre-tied) forms as well as the regular version.  For the pre-tied version,the cross at the front is sewn into shape, the ties all come around the back to tie under the hakama and out of sight, and the cross has a snap on the back that attaches it to the hakama at the correct height.

6. Haori (羽織):  After putting on the haori, secure the haori himo, and fold the collar down in half at the back.

Here you can see the solid-coloured kimono, haori, haori himo, hamaka, and ken (the short sword)

Here you can see the solid-coloured kimono, haori, haori himo, hamaka, and ken (the short sword)

7. Ken (剣): The ken (short sword) is slipped into the hakama on the left side, and tilted so that the top is slanted to the center of the chest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven-Year-Old Girls

Note: boys do not traditionally participate in shichi-go-san when they are seven years old.  I have the most pictures of this process because it is the most difficult. 

towels used as padding

towels used as padding

1. Padding: towels go across the chest and wrapped around the waist.

this nagajuban has no sleeves to make dressing easier.

This nagajuban has no sleeves to make dressing easier.

2. Nagajuban (長襦袢):  This juban does not have any sleeves, and the haneri (usually with cute, childlike motifs like rabbits) is already attached.  The collar of the juban should be flat against the neck.  Only when a girl turns ten does the collar drop down.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the kimono with a nii-juu age. About 1 cm of juban collar should be visible.

Here is the kimono with a nii-juu age. About 1 cm of juban collar should be visible.

3. Kimono (着物):  These small, child-sized kimono have some key differences from adult kimono, most notably that there are tucks sewn into the shoulders of the kimono, and the sleeves are furisode length. Here are some of the key things to remember when dressing a child.
(a) The koshihimo that secures the kimono is tied higher up on the body than on an adult kimono.  This gives the illusion of longer legs.
(b)About one centimeter of juban collar should be showing.
(c) The left side seam of the kimono should be running straight down.  It should not be pulled to the front.
(d) In order to match up the okumi seams, it is usually necessary to create a nii-juu age (a double ohashori).  This has the added benefit of moving all of the bulk of the kimono high enough so it will be hidden by the obi.

This is the back of the pre-tied obi before the bow is inserted. Folding up one corner gives it a nice look.

This is the back of the pre-tied obi before the bow is inserted. Folding up one corner gives it a nice look.

The bow should be high enough that the tips are visible over the shoulders.

The bow should be high enough that the tips are visible over the shoulders.

4. Tsuke obi (付け帯):  With children, it’s important to make everything as easy as possible, and this is especially true for the obi.  wrap the waist portion of the obi around the waist and match them at the back.  fold up the bottom corner of the obi to create an aesthetically appealing look, and insert the obi bow.  The top tips of the bow should be visible from the front over the shoulders.

Here is the shigoki tied at the back. The tails should be the same length.

Here is the shigoki tied at the back. The tails should be the same length.

5. Obijime (帯締め):  for such a formal occasion, a stuffed obijime is used.  For a two-toned obijime, the gold end should end up on the left side of the child, and the knot should be centered with the cross of the juban and kimono collars.  Since this is a celebratory occasion, both tassels should be pointing up.

6. Obiage (帯揚げ):  A shibori obiage is always used, and fancy ties are encouraged.  My teacher has developed a unique way of creating a flower in the obiage.

7. Shigoki (扱き):  the shigoki is a red scarf that is wrapped around the bottom of the obi.  It should be folded first in thirds, then in half.  With the edges pointing up,  match up the bottom of the obi with the folded edge of the shigoki. Wrap it around the back, and tie in a nice big bow on the left hip.

Here is the completed front view.

Here is the completed front view.

8. Hakoseko (筥迫): This decorative touch should be slipped into the collars of the kimono above the obi.

9. Sensu (扇子): The fan should be placed on the left side behind the obijime.  The top of the fan should be angled inwards.

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Kimono Diary: November 2nd-16th

I know, I know. I broke a promise! I promised to write a kimono diary every week, and last week I missed it. My apologies, but honestly, nothing kimono related really happened that week. I just couldn’t think of anything to write about. This week was markedly different though!

First, I finished my last day of dressing children for shichi-go-san. I had a squirmy-wormy boy this week. He just couldn’t stop moving, even with me and his mother telling him to stand still. I struggled to dress him, and my teacher had to redo a couple of things when I was done. I know that I dressed a lot of kids to the standards that I, my teachers, and the studio keep, but my mind keeps going back to the few kids (like Squirmy Wormy) that I know I missed something on. It wasn’t anything major. Just small things like a seam being too far to the front, or a collar showing too much, or an obi showing too little. Those things bug me. And even if the parents didn’t notice, I did. Usually after it was too late to fix it. The one saving grace I had was that I know the photographer was the last line of defense. If the child wouldn’t look good in the photo, then they would be sent back for redressing.

I went kimono shopping with a few friends on Sunday. They had lists of things they wanted to add to their collection, and I was their walking, talking, encyclopedia armed with a himo to help them try everything on! They came away with bags full of wonderful kimono, hakama, haori, and other goodies, and I even got some good deals in as well.

I also had an unsettling experience that reflects back on my kimono diary. I had tried on a kimono, tied the himo, and then got distracted by one of my friends asking a question. When I refocused on getting dressed, trying to create the ohashori, I felt a sharp tug on the back of my kimono. I turned around to find a woman pulling on the kimono and telling me how to put it on. I actually took a step back because it made me feel so uncomfortable and told her I was alright. And just like many times before, it took several repetitions of “I’m ok.” And “I’m a kitsuke teacher.” For her to finally back off. It really was very, very disconcerting.

My upcoming week should be good as well. After a month, my wasai lessons will finally be starting up again, and I’m finally looking at the tail end of a long, long project so I’ll finally have time to dedicate to other things, like posting more info on this blog. I always feel that the motifs section gets forgotten about, and I’m hoping to add some more motifs soon. If anybody has any motifs that you’re particularly interested in, please let me know.  I usually try to write about seasonal motifs during the appropriate season, but I’ll also take requests.

I also ended up adding some practical info on dressing children for shichi-go-san. You can find the post here.

Have a good kitsuke week!

Shichi-Go-San

Shichi-Go-San (七五三) is a milestone event that celebrates the health and well-being of three, five, and seven year old children.  Traditionally, three-year-old boys and girls, five-year-old boys, and seven-year-old girls celebrate this event, however many parents nowadays will get all their children dressed up in kimono at the same time regardless of how old they are to get family photos.  The children get dressed in kimono, take photos, and visit shinto shrines.  The actual date of shichi-go-san is November 15, but children often get dressed up and take photos in the month before this date.

For more information on how to dress a child for shichi-go-san, click here.

Kimono Diary: October 19-25th, 2015

How can you say no to these faces?

How can you say no to these faces?

Welcome back! I hope you all had a good week. I’m a little late with this diary because my Sunday was very busy. Not with kimono related events, but with a visit to a local farmer’s market, dinner with friends, and a couple of unexpected guests we picked up (after we almost hit them!) on the way to dinner. Kittens! I have really bad cat allergies, so I couldn’t touch them, hold them, or help clean them up (and I wanted to so badly, they were so cute!)   Fortunately, the friends we were with were thinking about getting some cats anyway, and it was love at first sight! As you can imagine, our evening plans got a little waylaid.

This week, there were two large events that dominated my kimono life. First was my second day helping to dress kids for shichi-go-san. I’m finally getting a handle on the boys and on the three-year-old girls, but I still struggle with the seven-year-old girls, especially with the ohashori. The kimono are designed to fit a wide variety of girls, so they’re larger than usual on most girls, and there’s a ton of extra fabric I have to squirrel away under the obi. I’m only an assistant helping my teachers, but there were so many kids on Saturday that I had to dress kids myself. I ended up dressing the seven-year-old girls up until the ohashori, then switch with my teacher to dress another kid. I’m hoping to get some more experience next week and finally get the hang of it.  I also got a nice compliment at the end of the day.  The manager asked if I would be around next year, because she wants to hire me directly for the period of shichi-go-san.  I guess that means I didn’t screw up to badly!

The other big event in my life is the beginning of a new series of videos on my Youtube channel. I call it Pop Culture Kimono, and the goal of these videos is to introduce kimono knowledge to the general population through popular characters in movies, games, etc. People complain so much about cultural appropriation with kimono and people thinking that kimono=geisha and I hope to dispel some of those myths. My first video is on a video game called Fatal Frame 5. I worked with a good friend of mine who publishes let’s plays on her Youtube channel, and Fatal Frame 5 was her first game (incidentally, she’s also the friend with two new kittens at home!)  You can see the video in my previous post.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy your kitsuke!

 

Kimono Diary September 28-October 4 2015

Hello again!  I hope you all had a good week.  My week didn’t start off all that great.  I’m collaborating with a friend to create a kimono based video for youtube (she’s a fantastic video editor).  While I was casually flipping through my notes, my heart sank.  I realized that I had used the wrong word to describe a garment.  What a goof on my part!  It only got worse when I messaged her and she said she no longer had the editable versions of the section in question.  AHHHH!  However!  When we got together on Friday, we found the autosaved edits on her external harddrive.  Thank you Adobe gods!

I managed to post about a couple of new motifs this week too.  I’ve decided to expand my geometric patterns section, so I added asa no ha and same komon to the list.

I also got together with my kitsuke teacher to practice dressing children for shichi-go-san.  In two weeks, my weekends will be taken up by helping my sensei dress small children for shichi-go-san for a local photo studio.  We started off by practicing on a small, child-sized mannequin lent to us by the photo studio to practice on.  And after that, I got to practice on my teacher’s grandchildren who are just the right age and size to practice on.  And they were so patient with us too!  Until it got too hot that is!

Photos or it didn't happen, right?

Photos or it didn’t happen, right?

Finally, I went kimono shopping with a friend of mine and managed to grab the steal of the month!  I gorgeous kimono bag in great condition that was originally 120,000 yen, and I only paid 700 yen.  I was really lucky that I spotted it before my friend.  One of us would have gotten it in the end.

Have a good week!

The bottom is a separate compartment for your zori.

The bottom is a separate compartment for your zori.

In the top half, there is a built in hanger for your kimono.

In the top half, there is a built in hanger for your kimono.