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Tuesday, 13th November 2012
In Events In Japan,

Get ready for the festival of Shichigosan

The festival of Shichigosan is usually celebrated around Japan on November 15th, or the nearest Sunday.

According to different regions and customs in Japan, it may be celebrated at other times also.

On the day, parents take their sons, aged three and five and daughters, aged three and seven, to a Shinto shrine for a day of prayer and to thank the gods for a healthy life so far and to ask for a safe and prosperous future.

Buddhist temples also hold Shichigosan celebrations.

Longevity candy is typically bought by parents for their children after attending the shrine and comes presented in a bag that has turtles and cranes on it, which symbolise long life.

The festival is named Shichigosan after the ages of children who take part – "shichi" represents the number seven, "go" stands for the numeral five and "san" is the Japanese name for three.

Girls wear their kimonos and boys wear haori jackets and hakama trousers. Although, as western styles become more popular, children are increasingly opting to wear formal dresses and suits instead.

Hie Shrine in Akasaka, Tokyo is one of the most popular festival destinations and is visited on the day by thousands of families.

The festival is said to originate with rituals from the aristocratic and samurai classes of the Heian (794 to 1192) and Muromachi (1338 to 1573) periods.

Both boys and girls aged three stopped shaving their heads and started growing their hair.

Five-year-old boys were, for the first time, allowed to wear hakama trousers in public and seven-year-old girls started to wear the obi sash to tie their kimono, as adults did.

Commoners across the nation begun to follow the tradition during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868, where they would visit priests in shrines and, the customs followed today sprung from the Meiji era (1868 to 1912).

The festival is all about the long, happy and healthy life of children and is celebrated with joy and good wishes.

Posted by Susan Ballion