In Japan, parents traditionally take their 3-, 5-, 7-year-old children to a Shinto shrine to pray for their growth on November 15th. Children are dressed well for the occasion, with many of them in traditional kimonos. Having emerged in the Edo period, this custom is called Shichigosan (“seven-five-three”) after the ages of the children who participate in the celebration.
In the old days, children started to grow their hair (kami in Japanese) long for the “Kamioki Festival.” Boys began wearing the hakama (a divided skirt for male formal wear) at the age of five when they celebrate the “Hakamagi Festival,” and girls stared to use the obi (a sash for kimonos) at the age of seven at the “Obitoki Festival.” These customs are said to be the origin of Shichigosan. Today, it is most common for parents to celebrate the growth of their 3-year-old children of both genders, 5-year-old boys and 7-year-oldgirls during the occasion.
In the precincts of a shrine, a stall is set up to sell chitoseame (“thousand year candy”), a long candy stick in a colorful bag with an illustration of a crane or a tortoise, both good omens in Japan. Children are given the candy in hopes for a long life.