Have you ever seen Japanese children, dressed in kimonos, visiting shrines in this season?
It is an annual event which is called “Shichi-Go-San”.
Shichi-go-san is a traditional event of Japan that is held in celebration of children’s growth. Boys and girls aged three, boys aged five, and girls aged seven are congratulated.
Around November 15th, children of these ages, dressed in their best clothes, make traditional visits to Shinto shrines with their parents. Many little girls dress up in lovely kimonos which are colorfully patterned, and many little boys dress up in haori and hakama.
On shichi-go-san day, you can see children and their parents giving thanks for their good health and praying for good fortune at Shinto shrines throughout Japan. You can also see many beautiful children dressed in their best clothes holding paper bags with long sticks of candy and their parents proudly taking photographs of them.
The long sticks of candy are called chitose-ame in Japanese. The word chitose means a thousand years, and the word ame means candy.The chitose-ame bear the wish that the children will grow up in good health and live long. The paper bags that contain chitose-ame have pictures of cranes and tortoises on them as they have long lives and therefore are thought to bring good fortune. The proverb says, “A crane lives a thousand years and a tortoise lives ten thousand years.”
By the way, didn’t you wonder why are the ages of 7, 5, and 3 celebrated?
This is because it has been a Japanese custom since ancient times to celebrate the arrival of 7, 5, and 3 years of age.
At 3, the ritual is to extend the child’s hair, at 5 it is for the child to wear a hakama for the first time, and at 7 it is tradition for the child to wear the same style of kimono and obi that adults wear.
It was thus celebrated in different ways as the child progressed towards adulthood.
Remnants of this can be seen in the modern day Seven-Five-Three festival.
In your country, do you celebrate children’s growth and good health?