Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rika's Shichi-Go-San(七五三), 7-5-3 Ceremony

We just finished taking pictures for Rika's Shichi-Go-San(7-5-3) ceremony. In Japan, kids have a ceremony at the shrine and take studio photos to celebrate certain ages. This tradition comes from the Heian period. originally only for royalty. Boys are celebrated at the ages of 3 and 5. Girls at the ages of 3 and 7. In general, odd numbers are considered lucky in Japan. One reason is that they can't be divided equally. Such is the superstition at weddings, one should never give a gift of even numbers. The age of 3 was traditionally when children received their first haircut. Boys started wearing their first "boy clothes" at 5 years old. Prior to this, boys and girls dressed pretty much the same. At 7, girls wore a kimono and for the first time with the traditional obi belt. These ages were milestones and signified taking one step closer to adulthood. In the Meiji period, this became a tradition for the masses. Today, kids take picture at photo studios and renting kimonos before going to the shrine. This is usually done around November.

We did ours in two days. It was Rika's first time and she was the main event, but we decided to do both girls for convenience. Rika actually turns 4 tomorrow and Hana turns 7 next February. The first day the girls wore traditional kimonos and took pictures at the studio and then we visited Kanda Shrine for the ceremony. This is pretty famous shrine in Yonago, especially for New Years and is also where Junko and I had our wedding ceremony.

For the ceremony, we all sit down in the shrine facing the alter. The priest first waves a staff with paper lightning shapes to purify us. Then he plays the drums to awaken the Kami spirit residing in the yasiro building behind the alter. He then kneels before the alter and reads from a white folded paper for this particular ceremony. At the appropriate time, he reads the names of those the ceremony is being done for. He not only gives their names, but must read the address. The Kami has to know who the person is and where exactly they live. He bows again and claps, finishing the rites. Afterward, the girls received wooden arrow good luck charms and long, thick stick candy that represents growing up straight and healthy. We went back to the studio to return the kimono for Rika and we had lunch at a family restaurant., a rare occasion for the Winters.

The second day, we went back to the studio and the girls took pictures with western dresses and played princess. They had a grand time and both looked great. Rika especially is a natural in front of the camera. The photos are not cheap and photo studios make a lot of  money at this time of year. I post more pictures when we get them.










4 comments:

Medea said...

Happy 7-5-3!! Your girls are gorgeous. I'm glad I found your blog.

Perry said...

Good looking Family. I'm up in Ibaraki, my first year in Japan. How was getting married here? got a blog post on that subject? May be going down that road next year.

jcwin228 said...

Thanks Perry, check out my post on Japanese dating and relationships under the Japanese Culture catagory.

Anonymous said...

We'll be near Kyoto with our 5&7 yr olds on 7-5-3, and want to fully participate in their lucky day.

Did you make special arrangements ahead of time to rent the costumes and get their names read by the priest? I read somewhere you need fill to out a form at the shrine. Love to find out more.

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