Shichi-Go-San

In Japanese, shichi is seven, go is five, and san is three. Shichi-go-san is a rite of passage for children who turn 7, 5, and 3 years old. It’s been celebrated in Japan for about 700-800 years! The festival is officially on November 15, but families visit the shrine to pay their respects on the weekends before and after. The children get dressed up in exquisite, colourful kimono, complete with beautiful hairstyles and other accessories. They really look like living dolls – both the boys and girls. Not only do the kids dress up, but the parents and grandparents do too. You could be forgiven for thinking they were all going to a wedding!

On the weekend, I visited Zenkoji Shrine in Nagano city. I had no idea there would be children celebrating 7-5-3, but as soon as I saw the first couple of kids wearing kimono, I figured it out straight away. I, as well as everyone else, couldn’t help but ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at all the little ones. My favourites were one cheeky 5 year old boy with a mohawk, dressed in a kimono with a fierce tiger image on the back! (I didn’t get a photo unfortunately); a tiny boy who looked just like a doll, and was definitely younger than three!; and the sweetest little girl eating her ice-cream. But they were all so precious! I think it’s one of the sweetest customs in Japan.

Shichi-go-san

Parents become paparazzi!

If you’re in Japan, keep your eyes peeled at shrines over the next few weekends!

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4 thoughts on “Shichi-Go-San

    • Thanks John! I’d only seen 753 once before, so I was so happy I got the chance to see it again. Ahh yes, the first Shinto wedding I saw was at Itsukushima Shrine – the location, rituals, everything was beautiful, but it was in the middle of summer so the bride was doing it tough! Where did you see yours??

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      • Hi Celia,
        I first came across a Shinto wedding in Kamakura at the Hachimangu Shrine in late autumn, so the weather was much more pleasant. If you’re interested I’ve shown some photographs from that wedding in my June 3 post on Shinto Weddings. Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is another great location for these weddings. The closest I came to a 753 was at the Heian Shrine, but I arrived too late when everyone was drifting away. Timing is everything as they say. I look forward to your continuing insights on life in Japan – they are always interesting.
        John

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