Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shichi-go-san, a.k.a. 7-5-3 Festival

Pictures from this entry can be seen in my Shutterfly album. Click here to see them all.

We went to the
Tsurugaoka-hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura for Shichigosan. Shichigsan literally means "Seven Five Three." Girls of age three and seven and boys of age five are celebrated on Shichigosan, and it is prayed for their good health and growth. Shichigosan takes place on November 15 and is not a national holiday. On November 15 or the closest weekend, the young people visit a Shinto shrine dressed up in their kimono.

Even though Keanna and Sydney aren't ages 3 and 5 we went anyway as observers instead of participants. Everywhere we went, people were snapping pictures of the kids and saying "Kawaii," which means "cute."

On the train ride there I sat next to a woman who spoke a little English. I asked her if it was all right that we were going and she said it was fine. She was very sweet, kind and helpful. I asked her about the special candy given to kids and she warned me that it's very, very sticky. A woman sitting on the other end of us gave us a bag of candy. She complimented the girls and Julie's son too, and handed Julie a bag of caramel candy. And speaking of candy, the kids being celebrated are given candy called Chitose-ame. The bags have cranes and turtles on them because they symbolize long and healthy life.

We got there and walked around a little bit, got pineapple on a stick, took pictures of the kids and watched other people take pictures of our kids. As we were eating our pineapple four photographers came and started taking pictures of the kids, and Keanna even stopped and put her arm around Sydney. While that was happening a wedding party started walking by, so I said to Julie, "Wedding, wedding, wedding!" She took off running to take pictures of them while I watched and heard "Kawaii" from onlookers. We headed up towards the shrine and participated in a couple of things going on. For ¥5000 (about $50) per child you could go into a prayer room. We opted not to do that, but did get pictures of people going in and coming out. And while they're in there, other people gather behind them and throw coins as offerings, clap twice, then bow their heads and say a prayer. Keanna and Sydney wanted to throw a couple, and thought clapping their hands afterward was fun.

After that we headed over to the fortunes. For ¥100 you shake a box, pull a stick out, and the number on the stick corresponds with fortunes. I got Keanna one too and she thought it was neat. After reading the fortune we saw people tying them up so we did the same. Our fortunes were on pink paper since they're in English while everyone else's was white. I loved watching people read their fortunes and tried to get pictures of their genuine reactions. Some of the girls were giggling and I just enjoyed people watching.

We ended up seeing four different wedding couples that day and had so much fun! The pictures don't do our day justice. The weather was beautiful, all the kids looked adorable and there was so much detail put into their kimono and especially the hair of the little girls!


Terri said... I are having too much fun there! I cannot wait to come to visit and you will have to take me to ALL these places! I sure hope some fun stuff will be going on! :) :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks amazing.