How to Celebrate 1st Birthday in Japan


When you hear the word “birthday”, what do you think of?

I think many people imagine “birthday cake”, and Japanese people are no exception.

But on first birthday, we celebrate our baby with “rice cake”.


The rice cake that used on 1 year birthday is called “Issho mochi”. It’s a round shaped rice cake and about 1.8 kilograms.


Parents make child carry Issho mochi, and watch over what kind of reaction does their child have. Some children cry, and some children go down, but any reaction would be considered good luck.

(Issho mochi is packaged in a traditional wrapping cloth.)

The detail of the ceremony depends on areas. For example, parents in Kyushu(southwestern-most of Japan’s main islands) make their child step on Issho mochi.

And parents in east Japan area try to trip their child or prevent the child from walking.

You might think it’s weird, but Japanese people perform this strange ritual to wish for their child’s happy future.


The meaning of the word “Erabitori” is choose and take an item.

We also carry out Erabitori on first birthday. It is said that this ritual tells child’s future.

First, parents put several items in front of their child, and then watch over which items does the child choose and pick.

The selected item is said to indicate the child’s talent in the future.

・Money / Wallet:become rich
・Scissors:become dexterous
・Abacus / Calculator:talent of business
・Brush / Pen:talent of painting or writing
・Spoon / Chopsticks:become a cook, without hunger
・Ruler:become methodical
・Balloon:work on a global scale

There’re no strict regulations of Erabitori, so you can free to add or remove the items from the list of Erabitori. Some parents add Smartphone, Soccer ball, Musical instrument, Shoes.

We put Money, Shoes, Pen, Calculator, Scissors, Musical instrument. And he touched the Calculator first, and then picked up the Money.

Though it’s hard to decide which items did he choose and take, either way he chose Money-related item.

Japanese people don’t really believe in this fortune telling. But the birthday party will be really exciting, if we take place this ritual.

If you are interested, why don’t you try Erabitori on your child’s birthday?


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