Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three) is one of several rites of passage the Japanese celebrate to insure the growth and well-being of children as they grow to adulthood. The origins of 7-5-3 are thought to date back to the Heian Period (794-1185 AD) when girls first swept their hair up in “adult” fashion at age three and wore their first stiff obi sash at age seven; boys wore hakama (a pantaloon-like garment worn by men over kimono robes) for the first time when they turned five. Various rituals and customs evolved over time but by the Meiji Period (1868-1912 AD) current practices were well established.
Today, celebrations typically include a visit to a shrine, a visit to a photography studio to capture the moment in a commemorative portrait, and a celebratory meal at home that includes sekihan, a traditional dish of festive red beans and rice.
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Elizabeth Andoh A Taste of Culture Culinary Arts Program Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0095, Japan