Shichi-Go-San, Kyoto, Japan

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Shichi-Go-San (七五三 or “Seven-Five-Three”) is a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys, held annually during the month of November (mainly on November 15) to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children.  Family usually visit their Shinto shrine on the weekend with the kids dressed up with beautiful kimono.

Shichi-Go-San at the Heian Jingu  Shrine, Kyoto


Shichi-Go-San at the Heian Jingu  Shrine, KyotoShichi-Go-San is said to have originated in the Heian Period amongst court nobles who would celebrate the passage of their children into middle childhood. The ages 3, 5 and 7 are consistent with East Asian numerology, which claims that odd numbers are lucky.  The practice was set to the fifteenth of the month during the Kamakura Period.

Over time, this tradition passed to the samurai class who added a number of rituals.  Children—who up until the age of three were required by custom to have shaven heads—were allowed to grow out their hair. Boys of age five could wear hakama for the first time, while girls of age seven replaced the simple cords they used to tie their kimono with the traditional obi.  By the Meiji Period, the practice was adopted amongst commoners as well, and included the modern ritual of visiting a shrine to drive out evil spirits and wish for a long healthy life.

I particularly like to visit a Shinto shrine during this period because these kids are so cute in their new beautiful little kimono.


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