Shichi-go-san ("Seven-Five-Three" Festival)
The custom, observed on November 15th, of taking five-year-old boys and seven- or three-year-old girls to the Shinto shrine to pray for their safe and healthy future is called "Shichi-go-san." In some parts of the country, boys are taken to shrine at three. Traditionally, this was the occasion when parents took their children to the shrine of the local tutelary deity (ujigami) to announce that the child had survived infancy. More recently, parents have tended to take their children to large and prestigious shrines, rather than to the local one. After the visit, many buy the auspiciously named chitose-ame ("thousand-year candy"), sold at the shrine, to distribute to relatives and neighbors. To commemorate the occasion, it is common to dress the child in formal traditional attire (kimono for girls and hakama and haori for boys) and have a formal picture taken. This apparel can be obtained on a rental basis, and services provide the kimono or hakama with all accessories, help from a professional dresser, and photography as a package deal for about 30,000 yen.