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May 2019

Cultural Article

A Traditional Japanese Celebration for Children (Shichi-Go-San)

by Shinichi Yamada

There are many unique traditional ceremonies in Japan, and some of them are events for children. In this article, I would like to introduce Shichi-go-san (which stands for the ages of seven, five and three).

Shichi-go-san is a traditional ceremony to celebrate the growth of children and to wish for their good health. In general, girls are celebrated when they are three and seven years old, and boys are celebrated when they are three and five years old. Based on regional customs, boys may only be celebrated at age five in some areas of Japan. The Shichi-go-san ceremony is traditionally held on November 15 th , and children wear kimono and go to the shrine to pray with their family. Besides these outings, taking photos of the children and having a dinner party are common ways to celebrate. Children may have a Chitose-Ame in the ceremony, which is a long, thin, red or white candy. "Chitose" literally means one-thousand years, and parents give it to their children with wishes for the children’s healthy growth and longevity.

Nowadays people don’t wear kimonos so often in daily life, but this ceremony is a good opportunity to see cute children wearing kimono.

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