Shichi-go-san literally means “seven, five and three”.
These ages are considered critical in a child’s life. Particularly, at the age of seven, a young girl celebrates wearing her first obi, while at the age of five a young boy celebrates wearing his first hakama pants http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakama in public.
The age of three marks the first time whereby both boys and girls are allowed to let their hair grow.
The boys don a haori jacket http://www.kimonosource.com/japanese_kimono_information/about_haori.htm and hakama trousers,while the girls would wear a special ceremonial kimono when making their shichi-go-san visit. In recent years though, an increasing number of children are wearing Western-style suits and dresses.
Cute rabbit Chitose- ame
Following the visit to the shrine, parents buy chitose-ame (“thousand years” candy) for their children. The candy is shaped like a stick and comes in a bag that carries illustrations of cranes and turtles - two animals that traditionally symbolise longevity in Japan. The candy and the bag are both expressions of parents' wish that their children lead long and prosperous lives.The point of all this?
Kiyoe sent me a photo of Keita at Shichi-go-san last year. He was three.
He looks so pleased with himself!!
The formal portrait is also traditional.