Everything You Need To Know About Japan’s Shichi-Go-San Autumn Festival

This is a celebration for children.

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Every November 15th, Japan celebrates
Shichi-go-san (seven-five-three). This is a celebration for children of ages three, five, and seven years old. These ages are considered as yakudoshi or unlucky years. In those unlucky years, the children should go and visit Uji-gami, the guardian deity of the Shinto shrine. In the shrine, they must express gratitude for the smooth growth and pray for their future happiness. Recently, the celebration is not limited on exactly November 15th but for the whole month of November, especially on weekends.

Girls attend this celebration at the age of three and seven, while boys participate at the age of three and five. Some facilities recently only celebrate for boys at the age of five. During the celebration, parents will dress their children with
haregi, a type of kimono used for formal events, and visit the nearest Shinto shrine.

The shrine will open advance reservations for this celebration. In a day, participants can choose from several slots that are available from the morning until evening. The slot will take around an hour per ceremony. During the ceremony, the
Miko, or the shrine maiden in Shinto shrine, will be praying and blessing the children.

After the ceremony, the children will receive a gift from the shrine called
Chitoseame, a white and red colored stick candy. These stick candies are given with the hope that the child will have a long life.

Photo iStock

During Shichi-go-san, you may meet the children dressed in their cute kimonos walking by with their parents on the streets. Or, you can see some of the parents taking a memento photo of their children near the shrine. Those scenes are one of the many ways to understand and know more about the Japanese culture.

 (26 October 2019)

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