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WHEN EAST MEETS WEST: Shichi-go-san---Seven-Five-Three Day in Japan


 Commentary by Hank F. Miller Jr.


Shichi-go-san is the name of a traditional festival in Japan which celebrates the growth of children at the ages of three,five and seven. It takes place on the 15th of  November each year,and it's common on this day for boys aged three and five and girls aged three and seven to visit a Buddhist shrines, temples or a Christian church often dressed in a traditional Japanese kimono for girls and boys a hakama.


Japanese girls at a shrine, dressed up for the...Image via Wikipedia

Basically,these events are based on rituals that traditionally celebrated three steps in the growth of children.The ceremony for for three-year-olds (boys and girls) are granted permission to grow their hair longer (having kept it short up to that point.)For five-year old boys,there was a ceremony in which the boys wore a hakama (formal Japanese male attire) for the first time.



For-seven-year-old girls,there was a ceremony in which they used for the first time a real obi (sash) in place of string to tie their kimono shut.Such practices were first performed in the world at court. They were then adopted in military houses,and finally in the populace at large as well.


No discussion of these ceremonies would be complete without mentioning the chitose ame (1,000 year candy) that is sold on the grounds of temples and shrines.First sold at  candy shops in Edo (the old name for Tokyo) around the middle of the 18th century,the candy was long and thin,colored red and white.The sales pitch,of course is that children who eat it will live 1,000 years,this mans that there wish is that children will grow soundly and live a long healthy life.

Although some children may wear western style clothing, most of the children will wear traditional  Japanese clothing when visiting the shrines temples or churches.This day is a day when many families have a family commemorative photo taken at a studio as well at shrines,temples or churches.

The studio's are extremely busy at this time of the year.


Warm Regards & Best Wishes from Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka ,Japan.

Hank F, Miller Jr.


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