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Annual Events in Japan
The Origins of Shichigosan
Shichigosan, held on November 15th, is a day when families go to shrines to pray for the good fortune and growth of children aged three, five, and seven. At home, families prepare foods such as red rice and whole fish and celebrate. In the past, the mortality rates for children were high, and children who lived to the aged of seven were called 'the children of the gods.' Even if they later died, it was believed that they would be reborn. So, familied would report to the shinto god at the shrine that the child had been safely raised to the age of seven and ask for future happiness. The celebrated ages of three, five, and seven were the result of influence from China, where odd numbers were considered to be a good omen. Three-years olds is experience Kamioki, a ceremony where the child's hair is first allowed to grow. Five-years olds have Hakamagi, a ceremony where the child first wears the hakama, traditional Japanese garment for men. And finally, seven-years olds experience Obitoki. During this ceremony, the belt is undone and the belt of an adult is fastened. These ceremonies are the origin of shichigosan.
Why is November 15th celebrated?
Shichigosan is held on November 15th. This day is kishuku, the luckiest of all days according to the twenty-eight mansions of Chinese astronomy. Also, according to folklore, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi celebrated the birth of his own child on November 15th. Most people don't currently worry too much about the date and choose the most convenient holiday around November 15th to celebrate.
Chitoseame - Talismans wishing for the growth of children
Chitoseame is essential for visits to shrines during Shichigosan. Chitoseame is red and white candy on long sticks that carries with it the wish for a long life for a child. On the candy wrapper are written good omens such as 'Long life!' and 'Crane and Tortoise.' The sight of children dressed and holding chitoseame bags is quite charming.