Obi Iwai (Obi-Tying Ceremony)
In Japan, when a woman reaches the fifth month of pregnancy, she wears an abdominal belt called an “Iwata Obi” (岩田帯) in hopes of an easy delivery.
It was worn every day until the day the baby was born, but these days few people actually wear one, even though some buy one for celebratory purposes.
Nowadays, instead of belly bands, people wear girdles or belly wraps, which are convenient for taking off the belt.
And the first day to wrap the girdle is called the Obi Celebration, which is the day of the dog in the fifth month of pregnancy.
(In the lunar calendar, each of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac is distributed on a different day of the month, so there are two or three Dog Days in a month.)
Dogs are said to be fertile and to have an easy delivery, so the dog day is probably because of the desire to be named after them.
In the past, belly bands were usually sent with dried bonito flakes and sake from the family of the expectant mother, after prayers for safe delivery had been offered at a nearby shrine or temple.
It may also be given by a matchmaker or a close couple blessed with a child.
The gift varies from region to region, such as a bleached cotton with the words Kotobuki or Inu (dog) written in red, or a talisman tucked into the obi.
Since it is a lucky charm, it may be appropriated in the form of a token, which can then be purchased at shrines or department stores that offer prayers for easy childbirth.
In my case, there is a famous shrine called Kishimojin in my neighborhood, so I went there to pray for a safe delivery. At that time, I bought a belly band.
During my pregnancy, I wore a girdle-style one, both with my first son and when I gave birth to my first daughter.
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