Chitose Ame (‘Thousand year candy’) are presented to children on this day as a symbol of longevity. text & coordination/ Rieko Ido, photo/ Hajime Watanabe

Shichigosan- Late October to Mid November

Shichigosan, which is a celebration for children, happens on the 15th of November on the old lunar calendar. “Shichi, go, san” literally means “seven, five, three”, the age of children who are blessed on this day. In ancient China, prime numbers such as 3, 5, 7 were regarded lucky. The 15th of the month was chosen for the celebration, as it is the sum of those three numbers and in itself is regarded as having even stronger powers to repel evil spirits. It was believed that children are given the gift of language at the age of three, intelligence at five, and teeth at seven. It was also believed that young children belong to the world of spirits, only becoming properly human at the age of seven. In old days when children’s mortality rate was much higher, it’s not difficult to imagine parents’ joy at celebrating the growth of their kids. This is also a day for children to get a sense of their own growth. Quite often this is the first day for girls to put on some make up, just like the ladies!

Rieko Ido

Conducting research into Japanese customs and knowledge from ancient times, and applying technical analysis of these findings to modern lifestyle. Kokugakuin University graduate. Teaches at Tama Art University.