Tokyobling's Blog

Shichi-go-san Girls

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on December 14, 2013

Shi-go-san is one of my favorite Japanese rituals. It the a ritual that takes place when boys turning 3 or 5, and girls turning 3 or 7. It is traditionally celebrations to mark a childs advancement in age. Children are dressed up in special clothes and the whole family usually visits a shrine to take part in a special ceremony. Traditionally it takes place on November 15th every year and it has been going on since sometime in the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) when it was reserved for court nobles. Later it became common even with the samurai class and in the recent period (starting in 1868 with emperor Meiji) it started being common in all classes of people. Although November 15th is the traditional date people do it more or less sometime around that time, sometimes months late or early: it is more important to be able to gather the entire family than to hit the correct date and in our modern times people really are too busy.

Back in the old days all children had shaved heads before the age of three so in the ceremony marked the day when the children could start growing their hair. At five boys would start wearing the hakama (a sort of kimono like trouser) and the girls would start wearing proper kimono with obi (the belt) at seven.

I took the first three of these photos at Tokyo’s famous Meiji Shrine in Shibuya Ward, and the last two at the Yushima Tenjin in Bunkyo Ward. The first girl with the absolutely adorable smile was very shy when she saw me with my camera.







16 Responses

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  1. tsuyopinn said, on December 14, 2013 at 5:14 am



  2. amadl said, on December 14, 2013 at 7:12 am

    The girLs are adorabLe!
    I reaLLy Like the third photo, the girL stood out Like a pink beacon in the center of a gray worLd.. Great shot! d^^b


    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Thank you! Yes, I saw here there and I knew I had to take that photo. The weather was not all that interesting at that time of the day, so I was lucky to catch her while there were still some light out!


  3. japalian said, on December 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I really love the third shot too! Everyone around her is moving and she’s just standing still. Amazing…


  4. Emma Reese said, on December 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Shy yet happy that you were taking her photos, I’m sure!


  5. Shelli@howsitgoingeh? said, on December 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Such a great ritual! So many great traditions!


    • tokyobling said, on December 16, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Thank you Shelli! Yes indeed, I envy them how they have kept and developed all these wonderful traditions.


  6. Jean said, on December 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    The children look so elegant!


  7. pk1154 said, on December 15, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Oh, I have to say I love the second photo. Such a classic pose, with one foot slightly lifted, yet that shy, sly, proud smile!


  8. Dina Farmer said, on December 15, 2013 at 5:42 am

    As a mom I love this! My little boy is going to turn 3, I wish we could do something fun like that. Maybe if we get orders back to Japan before he turns 5. I love the image of the girl and her mom or grandma adjusting her obi!


  9. alicevstheworld said, on September 4, 2016 at 9:18 am

    These photos are so lovely! Shichi-go-san’s such a gorgeous tradition.


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