What is Shichi-Go-San?
Shichi-go-san is a rite of passage and a day of celebration for girls ages three and seven and boys who are five years old. “Shichi-go-san” literally means “seven-five-three” in Japanese. Shichi-go-san is November 15th, but since it is not a national holiday, it is often observed on the weekend closest to the 15th. Children (and their parents) go to a temple or a shrine to give thanks and pray for good health as they grow. Shichi-go-san was traditionally a day when boys were allowed to wear a hakama (wide pleated pants) and seven-year old girls were allowed to wear a smaller version of an adult kimono and obi (kimono sash) for the first time.
In celebration of Shichi-go-san, children eat chitose ame. Chitose ame literally means “one-thousand years old candy,” with the one-thousand years old referring to a person’s age. Parents give this to their children with the hopes that they will have long lives. Chitose ame is roughly 15mm in diameter and one meter long. It is often red and white, both of which are auspicious colors. Packages of chitose ame are decorated with auspicious designs as well. These designs are usually images of cranes and turtles or pine, bamboo, and plum.