If you have recently walking around Tokyo, you may have seen little boys and girls (and sometimes their?parents) dressed up in beautiful Kimono.? This is for a celebration for children, Shichi-go-san (筝?篋?筝?), held around November 15th.
Shichi-go-san means ‘seven-five-three’.? It is called this way because it is a ceremony for 3 and?5 year old girls, and 3 and 7 year old boys, to celebrate their growth and health.? The ages 3,?5 and?7 are consistent with Japanese numerology, which dictates that odd numbers are lucky.
Shichi-go-san is said to have originated in the Heian period (794-1185)?among court nobles,?to celebrate the passage of their children into middle childhood.
Over time, this tradition passed to the?Samurai class.? They added some rite to this celebration.? The rites are:
Kamioki (蕭?舟) – Children?were allowed to grow their hair from the age of 3 (up until, children?were required by custom to have shaven heads).
Hakamagi (茴雁??) – Boys of age?5 could wear?Hakama (茴?, Japanese formal male skirt) for the first time.
Obitoki (絽?В) -?Girls of age?7 replaced the simple cords they used to tie their?Kimono with the traditional Obi (sash).
By the Meiji period (1868-1915), 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.
This visit to the Shrine is on November 15th, though this day of visit is not determined so strictly.? This date was chosen because the 15th every month was thought to Kishuku?(薔弱?, the day when evil spirits do not come out) in the old calender.? Also, November was the month of thanks giving, to be grateful to the Gods.
If you’ve seen the children holding a long, thin bag, that is Chitoseame (???罩渇４), literally ‘millenium candy’.? This candy is made very long, with a wish for the children to enjoy a long life, even 1000 years!? Chitoseame is usually colored white and red (or pink), the 2 colors thought to be auspicious in Japan.