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Shichi Go San (7-5-3) at Meiji Jingu

A Real Family Event

64 °F

November 15 is Shichi Go San (literally, 7 5 3) in Japan. This unofficial holiday commemorates the passage of 3 and 5 yr old boys and 3 and 7 yr old girls into the next stage of their childhoods. To celebrate, Japanese families often dress up the kids of those ages in traditional garb and on the weekend nearest November 15, head out to a Shinto shrine for a massive photo event. We were in Tokyo the weekend before November 15, so with our Tokyo friends, Jeff and Mutsumi DSCN1376.jpg, we headed out to Meiji Shrine to catch the action.

Meiji Shrine was erected to honor the memory of Emperor Meiji and his empress. The emperor ruled until 1912 and was basically responsible for bringing Japan into the then modern world. The area where the shrine is is covered with 120,000 trees of 365 different species, all evergreen, although as far as we could see, none were coniferous. By now those trees are more than 90 years old and create a really wonderful canopy that must be pleasantly cooling on a hot day.DSCN1308.jpg

We were not disappointed by the crowd. There must have been several dozen little girls and boys dressed to the nines, surrounded by proud parents and grandparents, many of whom also were dressed up. DSCN1305.jpgDSCN1323.jpgDSCN1339.jpgDSCN1345.jpgDSCN1412.jpgDSCN1462.jpg Even siblings who were not the correct age or whose parents decided not to put them into traditional dress were in their best clothes.DSCN1482.jpgDSCN1414.jpgDSCN1426.jpg

Some families took their own photos. Others had hired professional photographers.While some children reveled in the event or seemed at least quite confident DSCN1382.jpgDSCN1479.jpgDSCN1310.jpg, others, especially the younger ones, had a harder time dealing with the stress of being dressed up in strange clothes for the first time, with strange people taking photos of them. For example, these two sisters were having their photos taken by a professional photographer, not to mention dozens of other people who they had never seen before and never would again. DSCN1398.jpg What they really looked like at this point was this. DSCN1402.jpg After this, dad called a time out and came out to hug his youngest. This, and the professional photographer's tricks in photographing young children, seemed to work magic, and the girls--at least momentarily felt better. DSCN1405.jpg Some kids needed a parent close by to get through the photo ordeal. DSCN1357.jpg And some endured the event with resigned patience DSCN1445.jpg, although a tear or two sometimes slipped by. DSCN1449.jpg (Note: Dick took these photos with a telephoto lens. The girls probably never even saw him)

The day was also an auspicious one for weddings. A shrine official told our friend Mutsumi they were doing 20 weddings that day. DSCN1427.jpgDSCN1428.jpgDSCN1438.jpg For these expensive weddings, female guests wear kimonos.DSCN1434.jpg04322975C2D1366C9DBCC44970558B68.jpg

At the end of a lovely day, it was time for everyone to go home. DSCN1307.jpg

Posted by pokano 22:06 Archived in Japan

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Pam -- we loved the Meiji. My niece Blythe and I didn't even know of it's existence but stumbled up the park on one of our many forays to Harajuku! To our pleasure we were there on one of the important Shiny holidays and we're able to observe (and invited to participate in) the rites of the day.
I'm really enjoying your blog. Makes me "homesick" for Japan.
BTW, whI checked Jeff are you with?

by Joanne Foster

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