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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shichi-Go-San

November 15th is Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three) in Japan. It is a ceremony for 5 year old boys and 3 and 7 year old girls to celebrate their growth. It is a day of prayer for the healthy growth of young children and to pray for their future. Why the ages Seven-Five-Three? These ages are odd numbers and are considered lucky in East Asian numerology. Shichi-Go-San is not a national holiday and is usually celebrated on the nearest weekend to the actual date.

It is tradition on Shichi-Go-San for children to dress up in traditional Japanese clothing such as a kimino and hakama and visit a shrine to celebrate and be blessed. It is usually the first time for many to wear such traditional clothing and is a popular time for formal pictures to be taken at a professional photo studio. In more recent times, many children are increasingly wearing Western style clothing such as dresses and suits. 

The celebration is said to have started during the Heian period (794-1185) when nobles celebrated the growth of their children. The practice became popular among commoners during the Edo period (1603-1868) and evolved to what it is today during the Meiji era (1868-1912).

After the visit to the shrine, parents usually buy special candy for the children called chitose-ame (longevity candy). The character for chitose-ame is 千歳飴 and it literally means thousand year candy. Not that it is a thousand years old, but it symbolizes healthy growth and longevity. The candy is shaped like a stick and comes in a bag decorated with cranes and turtles, which both symbolize long life.

Chitose-ame
Some other popular Japanese festivals include:

8 comments:

  1. The kids look so cute when they are dressed up for that :--)

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    1. Thanks Thomas, Yes, they always do and it is a perfect time for a picture :)

      John

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  2. I can never decide who looks the cutest - the little girls or the little boys. Aww, they're all adorable. ^^

    PS: I hope Western clothes never ever replace the traditional outfits on this particular day.

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    1. Thanks Rurousha, Yeah, I agree with you. Always prefer the traditional clothes to the Western style. Visit a shrine or two this weekend and you are bound to see quite a few :)

      John

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  3. Nice post. Last year, my daughters cerebrated Shichi-Go-San at the same time. That's why my eldest daughter is seven and my youngest daughter is three. It's happy to visit the shirine.:)

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    1. Thanks Cocomino, It must have been a great family celebration. Did you get some photos done as well?

      John

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  4. An interesting post, and one I haven't really seen much of or learned of... probably because I don't have kids. I'll have to track a family down next year and see what's about.

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    1. Thanks MTJ, Yeah, I used to wonder what it was all about when the kids were all dressed up in their traditional clothing. It makes a great time to visit a shrine and some good photo opportunities.

      John

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