Thank you, all of you, for accompanying us on our tour to Meiji Shrine and Harajuku district on November 5. It was absolutely wonderful weather in autumn. We welcomed 14 guests from Canada, Brazil, Italy, UK, Austria, Belgium and Russia. Four of the participants had kindly joined our tour to the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace the day before which we appreciate. We enjoyed watching a lot of children wearing cute clothing, wedding parades and the chrysanthemum display on the way to the main building.
November 15 is Shichi-Go-San(7-5-3) Day to pray for the growth of children of three, five and seven years of age. Boys and girls of three, boys of five and girls of seven are taken principally to the Shinto shrines such as Meiji Shrine by their parents to give thanks and blessings for the future. The girls we saw wearing pretty kimono and boys in hakama(divided skirts) were to take purification rituals.
In the old days infant death rates were high, so those ages were uncertain and critical in a child life. In fact Shichi-Go-San was a milestone in the health of children.
Shichi-Go-San is said to have 1,000 year history. The fifth Shogun Tsunayoshi Tokugawa prayed for good health of his oldest son on November 15 during the Edo period in the 17th century. Since then common people started to follow this tradition on that day. The reason for the odd numbers of three, five and seven are because those odd numbers are customarily considered a lucky number in Japan.
Inside the main building purification rituals are performed for the children. The Shinto priest waves Harae-gushi, a wood stick with white zig zag paper attached back and forth. Following the ceremony a special candy is awarded to the children by the shrine. It is called Chitose Ame(thousand year candy) wishing good health and long life to the children. The candy is long, thin, red and white in the bag. Although Shichi-Go-San is officially November 15, the choice of the date is getting flexible in modern days. We see a Shichi-Go-San family with a happy face a couple of weeks before or after November 15.
Our tour to Meiji Shrine and Harajuku is held on a non-regular basis at present. We are looking forward to seeing you next time.
(posted by Yoshi)