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Welcoming Babies into the World: The Japanese Tradition of Miyamairi

By Staff Writer
November 10, 2023
Miyamairi, also called ubusuna-mairi or hatsumiya-mairi, is a tradition in which a newborn is taken to the shrine for the first time to report their birth to the ubusunagami (guardian deity of one’s birthplace). In the old days, this visit was an event to pray to and receive blessings from a local deity as a new ujiko (shrine parishioner), and also to mark the end of mourning that is attached to a mother giving birth. Today, however, the event is celebrated to express gratitude for the safe delivery and to pray for the baby’s healthy growth.
A newborn at a miyamairi ceremony
When visiting a shrine, participants wash their hands and mouth at the chozuya (water basin for ritual cleansing), make a donation, ring the bell, and pay their respects by bowing twice, followed by two claps, praying, and one bow.

Miyamairi is held on a day with good weather about 30 days after the child is born. Generally, this takes place on the 31st and 32nd day after birth for boys, and on the 32nd and 33rd day for girls. But this varies from region to region. It is common in the Kanto region to hold the ceremony sometime between 30 days to 100 days after birth, whilst in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region, it may be held later when the weather is warmer.

Sometimes the weaning ceremony, often referred to as “okuizome”, usually held 100 days after birth, is held on the same day as miyamairi. The shrine visit does not strictly need to be held 30 days after birth as the mother’s and the child’s health condition is given priority.
Parents with their newborn at a miyamairi
In the past, shrine visits were held with only the baby, the father and the paternal grandparents. It was believed that the baby was the grandchild of the father’s side of the family as the mother had not yet recovered from postpartum grief. This has changed now, as today all members of the family, including the baby, the parents and the paternal and maternal grandparents partake in the ceremony. In some cases, the parents’ siblings also attend the ceremony.
A family of three generations at a miyamairi ceremony
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