First birthday celebration
いっさいの たんじょういわい

A child's first birthday is a special time in Japan, and different customs are practiced from one region to another. One common custom is to have the toddler carry piggyback a large mochi (rice cake) weighing 1 sho. The word for the volume unit issho (roughly equivalent to 1.8 liters) is a homophone for issho meaning "a whole lifetime," and the issho mochi symbolizes the parents' hope that the child will never go hungry throughout his or her lifetime. In some places, a one-year old receives a gift of a sword or a pair of scissors, in others the child is given a selection of items to choose from: rice, money, an abacus, a ruler, and a calligraphy brush. The object the child chooses is thought to determine his or her future.



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