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A young girl in a pink kimono gives candy to a younger boy in a suit
A young girl celebrates Shichigosan with a young boy.
Photo courtesy of MAYA - Japanese Traditional Arts and Crafts.
Seven-Five-Three or Shichigosan (November 15)
Children who reach certain ages visit a Shinto shrine on shichigosan (literally, ‘seven-five-three’), to give thanks to the gods for their good health to that point, and to ask for its continuance in the future. Boys celebrate shichigosan at the ages of three and five, while girls do so at three and seven. Officially, shichigosan falls on November 15th, but people usually celebrate on a weekend day close to this date. After visiting a shrine dressed in formal attire, the family will visit relatives and neighbors to distribute ‘chitose ame’ (‘thousand years of age candy’). Shichigosan, though now popular among the general public, was originally observed by the samurai and aristocratic classes. When a child reached the age of three, the family performed a ceremony called kamioki (literally, ‘hair placing’) signifying the transition from infancy to childhood, when the child would be allowed to grow long hair. Boys at the age of five underwent the hakamagi (‘hakama wearing’) ceremony, when they visited the shrine for the first time wearing formal adult clothing. Girls at the age of seven underwent the obitoki (‘obi unfolding’) ceremony, based on the ritual of exchanging their childhood sashes for the wider adult obi.
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