Today we participated in a Shichigosan festival. This means, 7-5-3 festival. In Japan, in mid-November, 3 and 7 year old girls and 3 and 5 year old boys participate in this festival, which is like a rite of passage. On this day, Japanese children of these ages visit shrines, dressed in kimonos and hakama (which is what you will see my boys wearing), to drive out evil spirits and wish for a long healthy life.
The original significance of these ages beginning in ancient Japan, is that at age 3, children were allowed to grow out their hair, at age 5, boys were allowed to wear the hakama for the first time, and at age 7, girls were allowed to wear an obi (the thick band around the middle of the kimono) for the first time.
Getting ready was a big ordeal, this is what I saw and feared upon arrival. Here are my four kids' outfits hanging all premeasured and hemmed, on the left is a purple girls' kimono for Addison, poor thing, he was traumatized. Luckily, they were able to get a boys' one for him:
To give you an idea of how much is involved in putting on the outfits, here are some photos I took of the different phases of getting Owen dressed:
The festival that we participated in today was specifically for foreigners. The ceremony was still in Japanese, but an English speaking woman explained to us what was happening. There were about 40 or so children participating and the whole ceremony took about 10 minutes.
Here is the inside of the shrine:
Here are the kids sitting down listening to the ceremony:
This man is using this white thing to ward off bad spirits:
This man is ringing bells over the children's heads to have God bless them:
The whole crowd out front afterwards:
One of my favorites of each kid:
I let them be silly:
Each kid got to pick a prize on their way out for participating in the ceremony:
As we left, Hazel kept exclaiming "that was so fun". And, as luck would have it, Nathaniel lost his second tooth during the ceremony.