Film info

Creator / Collector

Shichi-Go-San is a festival for three-year-old girls and boys, five-year-old boys and seven-year-old girls. The words literally mean three, five, seven, and they are related to the rituals of the transition of children to these certain ages.

Boys and girls had their heads shaved up till their third year of age.
The five-year-old boy celebrates by wearing a hakama, trousers with pleating that is symbolizing the seven virtues.

The seven-year-old girl celebrates by wearing her first obi (a wide starched belt) in kimono.

This custom is rooted in the Heian period (794-1185) where the nobles chose a lucky day in November to celebrate their children age transition to the middle age.

During the Kamakura period (1185-1333) the 15th of November was designated as the feast day for the children's transition.
Every 15th of November or the nearest Saturday to this date, boys and girls of the ages above, along with their parents, visit a Shinto temple to chase away the evil spirits and pray for the health and well-being of their children.
The girls wear kimono and the boys wear a traditional haori overcoat and hakama pants.

After the visit, the parents take pictures and buy chitose - ame (a candy bar of a thousand years) to their children, a candy bar stick in a paper bag decorated with cranes and turtles, symbols of longevity.

The film takes us to the Meiji Temple and we watch snapshots of the festival.

Emperor Meiji and his wife Soken are buried in the Meiji sanctuary.


Film Information

Bonar, Andrew Graham

HD (1440x1080)



Duration (seconds)

Super 8mm

Creator's description

We are now at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and it is November 15th, a very special day. On this day, known as Shichigosan, thousands of kimono-clad children aged 3, 5 and 7, escorted by their parents, come and pay their respects at the Shrine of the Emperor Meiji.
Here is the Shinto temple, and inside the crowd is circulating.
Outside, proud parents get their children ready to be photographed.
Bonar, Andrew Graham