7-5-3 Comin Atcha

This was us, three years ago! Now I’m writing more about my experiences as an American living in Japan in other forums than my blog. 

In the anthology, Knocked Up Abroad Again, I specifically get into the question, “How can I even think of raising children in a place so foreign? In a place where, because of the language, my communication is reduced to the language of a small child?” 


In Japan, families celebrate their children with the blessing of shichi-go-san, Japanese for the numbers, 7, 5, 3. Girls dress in kimono for their first-ever time at 3, then again at 7. Boys take part just once, at age 5.

Or friends came over and we just had a day, a special day where you rise early and make sure you have some kind of time for coffee before the place is abuzz. The kind of day when a mother wakes her sleeping daughter to start the process of climbing into the silk folds  of her kimono.

And I swear I love any and all of the shots of me far more than at any picture, at any stage in my life. More than wedding pics. More than you-name-it. Just right here, as we are. Okay, clothed in kimonos, too. But nothing was done to my hair. I did my makeup in a rush, nursing. I have bits of gray hair showing, whatev. It’s all there–real and loved. And it’s ours. It’s us. I’m in love.

The work and peaceful presence of photographer and friend, Mel Willms, is all good.

Mel Willms Photography-33

Mel Willms Photography-39

We all just BURST with love for this little big girl. Baba, short for Obaachan, grandmother, is securing and tying our girl’s kimono.

Mel Willms Photography-46

little girl hands

ps i wrote about the makeup/picture issue for our girl here; that was re the day before. on this day, she had on nada, save some Chapstick, maybe.

Mel Willms Photography-71

Prom King sporting suspenders.

We then left our home, me, rather clumsily, & caravanned by taxi to Rikugien Gardens.

Mel Willms Photography-75

sweet sweet sweet  n  sweet                              sweet.

Mel Willms Photography-77

just walking around, looking for donguri/acorns & singing

“The Nutcracker Suite”.

Mel Willms Photography-95

just before we left, under a gigundo old old kuri tree

which is funny, cuz i read those kuri/chestnut trees take three years to mature, & here we are, celebrating a girl’s big 3.

(Do you know the kids’ song about the chestnut tree? )

Mel Willms Photography-98

Mel Willms Photography-102

Mel Willms Photography-103

ahhh the best day & we are totally sushified & feeling awesome

To read more accounts, more drama, more humor, more of what it may take being a mother abroad, come support our Kickstarter for Knocked Up Abroad Again!


A Brief Interlude

A passing out of programs

the rapping of the baton,

orchestra’s warming up;

lights will be dimming soon.

Curtain opens up

velvet, soft, grand.


My girl will be taking part in shichi-go-san, 七五三.

But you know, she is quite different in this town.

A stroll through the gardens,

not the same clap at the temple.


Her prayer comes down first from another mountain

and bathes in streams of another East

even as it mixes, develops

on the slopes of Tama River.


The intones of an Aaronic benediction,

the chorus of Totoro, and a complete feast

with red beans and white tabi socks with the neat toe split.


Do you hear that song?

Sono uta wa nani desu ka?

The rise and fall of the amida,

the Jewish call to worship,

the Sh’ma.


And over her lifetime,

or through the span of one year,

Sakura, traditional melodies danced with fans,

skipped in summer sandals,

praised in yukata,

digging up dirt with kabuto-mushi.

Frogs and a single reed, the whoooosh of wind through leaves,

lai lai lais ending as the sun slips down.


Hers is the crescendo of crickets, violins, a trumpet.

The buzz of cicada, and the whirr of a jet plane

over the Pacific,

the pianissimo

in the covering of eyes.

What are two songs or some sounds that meld together in your life, from your languages & cultures? What songs are your kiddos/future kiddos inheriting?