Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Celebrating' Shichi-Go-San in Tokyo

We were in Tokyo during Shichi-Go-San (seven-five-three), which is a traditional rite of passage and festival day for girls aged three and seven and boys aged three and five. It falls on November 15, and it celebrates the growth and well-being of young children.

Mother and daughter in their ceremonial kimono, resting in the shade.
On that day, parents bring their children to the shrine to ask for blessings from the gods, drive out evil spirits, and to wish for a long life. We decided to visit Hie Shrine, Tokyo's most urban shrine (because it sits on prime central Tokyo land), to see how the Japanese people celebrate Shichi-Go-San. And also because Kit is three years old, I thought we could celebrate it by giving him Chitose-Ame (thousand years candy), and wish him a long, healthy life.

Hie Shrine.
Kit holding on to his packet of Chitose-Ame.
Japanese boy wearing the haori and hakama.
While the girl's ceremonial kimono, which they wear during the shrine visit, is understandably pretty, and probably photographed by many. I love the boy's haori (jacket) and hakama (pants), which looks very stately, serious yet decorative and majestic at the same time.

Mother buying Chitose-Ame for her children.
500 yen for each packet of Chitose-Ame.
The bag is decorated with a crane and tortoise to represent long life.

There were five sticks of sweets inside each packet. Two sticks were disappeared into the boys' stomach after two days.
The sweets are long, thin and red and white to symbolize healthy growth and longevity.

No little boys with their ceremonial robes. Just the Milka girl in her kimono.
It was the boys' first taste of a Japanese tradition.

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