Shichi Go San Festival and Chitose Ame Hard Candy
Annually on November 15, a traditional festival for children is held in Japan. The Japanese tradition is called Shichi Go San, where seven, five, and three-year-old kids are celebrated as the name of the festival “Shichi Go San (七五三)” literally means “Seven Five Three”.
Shichi Go San Festival
The origin of the Shichi Go San Festival is said to date back to the Muromachi period (Muromachi: 1336 to 1573), and afterward, in the Edo period (Edo: 1603 to 1868), the event expanded throughout the country.
At the time, babies and small children had a high death rate, which is why the festival Shichi Go San came to be held to appreciate their sound growth and wish for their long healthy life, when little children reached the ages, seven, five, and three.
Where Shichi Go San Festival is Held
Actually, a tradition to appreciate and wish for seven, five, three-year-old children’s sound growth has been passed down from generation to generation here in Japan and on November 15 we go to a Shinto shrine near our house.
However, since many small Shinto shrines don’t have priests who pray for the children’s longevity, many people visit a relatively big shrine with priests for their children, while others go to a shrine near their house and pray for the children for themselves even if there are no priests in the shrine.
In a nutshell, basically, we visit a Shinto shrine near our house for the seven, five, three-year-old children’s event, but you can visit whatever shrine you want to, whether big or small.
Chitose Ame Red and White Candy
In the Edo period, the original candy for the Shichi Go San festival called “Sennen Ame (千年飴: One Thousand Year Candy)” was first made, and in modern times, Sennen Ame is known as “Chitose Ame (千歳飴: One Thousand Age Candy)”.
As shown above, the traditional Japanese candy, Chitose Ame generally consists of 2 long sticks of red and white hard candies in a special paper bag, but some only consist of a piece of red and white-colored long hard candy.
The reason why the Japanese hard candy has red and white colors is that in Japan the pair of red and white “Kouhaku (紅白)” is believed to bring good luck.
And from the reason that the Kouhaku candy is stretched long in the producing process, with the auspicious treat Chitose Ame during the festival Shichi Go San, we Japanese wish our children a long healthy life.
What is more, as you can see in the photo above, on the special paper bag for Chitose Ame, lucky Japanese words, such as “寿 (Kotobuki)”, “祝 (Iwai)”, or “松竹梅 (Shochikubai)“, are usually printed.
Source: Youtube (千歳飴が出来るまで)
By the way, the main ingredients of Chitose Ame are thick malt syrup and sugar, and if you run a search for “千歳飴 (Chitose Ame)” on Youtube in Japanese, you can find a lot of videos concerning its production process like the above.