Do you have a child whose age is 3, 5 or 7? Or do you know any Japanese friend and neighbor who has those aged children? If you do, please check this information!
What is 753 (七五三Shichigosan)?
753(七五三Shichigosan) means the celebration for the healthy growth of children who turn 3, 5 and 7 years old. This celebration started in the Heian period (8c-12c). At that time, It was very difficult for children to survive when they got some diseases, so they were called ‘the sons of god’ until they turned 7 years old. Therefore, parents celebrated when they became 3, 5 and 7 with wishing their long time healthy life. This is the details about the celebration for each age in Heian period.
3 years: 髪置Kamioki- all the children start to grow their hair.
5 years: 袴着Hakamagi-boys begin to wear Hakama (man’s formal divided skirt)
7years: 帯解Obitoki-girls change to normal Kimono with Obi (Kimono belt)
As for present-day of 753 celebration, it is celebrated as similar way as Heian term, which is 3 and 5 years for boys and 3 and 7 years for girls to congratulate. Normally, it is suggested to do this celebration on 15th of November since Tsunayoshi Tokugawa(徳川綱吉-5th shogun of Tokugawa) chose this date for his child as it was the luckiest day in 二十八宿Nijuhasshuku , which is one of the Chinese fortune-telling for dates of good or bad. However, you can choose any dates from October to November if all the family member can get together and celebrate.
How to celebrate
The important thing is your congratulatory feeling, so you can do anything for 753 day, such as having a big dinner, taking photos and praying at your favorite temple. Here are two popular ways to celebrate 753.
Taking photo at Photo Studio
This is the most popular way to celebrate 753, because there are lots of photo studios, and they have more than 100 dresses and accessories that you can wear for photos such as Kimono, pretty dresses and suites. In addition, they set your children’s hair before taking photos in the same studio, so it is quite easy to organize. The price is a little bit expensive, usually about 30,000yen-40,000yen, however it would be an important life moment for them, so the price is regarded as less important. The fee for clothes and hair arrangement is all included in the price, mentioned above, therefore they can change into as many clothes or hair styles as they want. Other family members also can be in a photo with the child, but parents need to prepare and put on their clothes for photos at home. Some studios have options for parent fittings with extra fee, so it would be best to check. The following website belongs to one of the famous photo studios in Japan.
Website (Japanese): http://www.studio-alice.co.jp/shortcut/753_s.html
Visiting a shrine
This is also a common way to celebrate, since 753 originally means to pray to your patron shrine and thank the deity for the healthy growth of the child. I recommend that you visit shrines near your home, because it is difficult to move around, especially for small children since you should wear formal dress to visit your deity, which is normally Kimono. It is also no problem wear western dress, but people might look at you strangely. Then, you need to wear same style of dresses as your children, such as Japanese style or western style. Some photo studios have some rental dresses, so you don’t have to worry about buying a new Kimono. After you arrive at a shrine, just follow this procedure to pray.
1: Walk on the edge of the entrance path (middle of the path is for the gods to walk)
2: Tidy up before you enter the gateway (鳥居Torii), make a bow and go inside
3: Wash your hands and mouth at water container (手水舎Temizuya)
4: Go to the main shrine, make a bow and put in money offering (賽銭Saisen)
5: Make 2 bows, 2 handclaps and 1 bow
6: Walk back to the gateway (again, walk on the edge) and make a bow again facing the shrine.
If you also want to receive a prayer, it costs 5,000yen-10,000yen. The way of prayer depends on shrines, so you would be better to ask at the shrine and follow their way.
After the celebration
You may get some money and gifts from your relative or friends. In general, you don’t have to give something in return, since it is the celebration of the children’s growth. However, lots of people feel sorry and recently they give something back to them just in case. If you want to give a gift in return for their presents, you would be better to do it 2 weeks at the latest, from the date you received the gifts. The common things in return for 753 are Chitose candy (千歳飴Chitoseame), festive red rice (お赤飯Osekihan) and a box of cakes or snacks. The average price you should spend for their return gifts is 30-50% of the price they give to you. If you give them something which is more expensive than their gifts, it would mean that you have some with their gifts. On the other hand, if you want to give money or gifts to your relatives or friends as their children’s 753 celebration, the average costs are following;
・As friend/ neighbor: 3,000-5,000yen
・As relatives: 5,000-10,000yen
・As grandparent: 10,000-30,000yen
Do you have any ideas for your children or neighbour’s children? If you ever find some beautiful children with pretty dresses visiting a shrine, just recall this article!