While the 3 and 5 year old celebrations for Shichi-go-san were fun, when Leiya hit 7 we went all out! It is ridiculous how much we parents can spend on our kids, but we do have good memories of the day. Even though Shichi-go-san can be quite extravagant (I think we spent over $700 just on that day) I felt it was worth it and we enjoyed a couple weeks planning for the big day.
Of course it is possible to buy a little girl a kimono but I can't even tell you how much that would cost! You could probably buy a car for the same amount! Most families will rent a kimono instead and at this time of year the department stores offer a package deal where the little girl can have her hair done, make-up applied, kimono rented, and pictures taken. We chose this route.
A week or so before the big day, my friend and I took both our little girls to the kimono section of a department store and spent a couple hours choosing kimonos. What fun this was! Talk about eye candy! The beautiful silk kimonos were in all colors with all sorts of designs and embroidery. Leiya and her friend got draped in kimono after kimono trying to decide which they liked best, which suited each girl the most and then we did the whole process again trying to choose an obi (wide belt) to match the kimono. The other little girl made her choices too and it was interesting to see how different kimonos set off each child's features best. We made an appointment to get Leiya's hair done at the department store hair salon and also to rent the kimono for two days.
When the appointed day came, we took Leiya and her friend to the hair dresser and the ladies there quickly styled their hair in a traditional style. Leiya's hair was very long and they sprayed it and curled it and stuffed it with black wool to give it height and then put lovely little dangling decorations here and there in the coiffure. I remember that people kept telling me to wait until Leiya's hair was done to take pictures, but I was snapping from every angle just because I wanted to record how the hair styling process was being done.
Make-up was applied and then the two girls moved on to the kimono department where hordes of ladies were waiting to dress them. Again, I was taking pictures of the dressing process and all the ties and padding that are needed in order to wear a kimono. The tying of the obi is a work of art in itself! How can this very long, stiff, piece of brocade be shaped and coaxed into all these intricate folds and poofs with no sewing whatsoever, and just a few extra pieces of cording and padding? It seems miraculous to me!
Once dressed in the kimono the girls moved on to the photographer's studio where Tetsu and Takumi and the other family were waiting. Leiya was photographed in different poses and we were able to have a family picture as well. For this, I had even been persuaded to wear a kimono though Tetsu thought that was taking things a bit far. It was fun for me though and I don't think I've ever worn one since.
While most families will make the trip to the shrine after picture taking, our family went to the church for a blessing and then we met with the rest of Tetsu's family for dinner out at a nice restaurant. Yes! Leiya ate dinner wearing this gorgeous, valuable kimono. Don't ask me what would have happened if she'd spilled food down her front but I suppose the fees to rent it covered insurance in case we damaged it in some way. I think I remember my friend said her daughter found the kimono too tight and uncomfortable and quickly changed out of the outfit after the picture taking, but Leiya managed to last the whole day and finally, in the evening after a few more pictures I helped her out of the contraption and we admired the kimono all laid out on the floor.
I've always chided myself for the amount of money we spent on a very frivolous activity and even though we took a lot of pictures I don't get a chance to bring out the old album and show people much. So.... I'm thrilled to be able to proudly show you Leiya all dressed up long ago and to tell you about our very interesting day!