Shichi Go San Festival & Chitose Ame Candy
Annually on November 15, a traditional festival for children takes place in Japan.
The Japanese tradition is called Shichi Go San (七五三: meaning Seven Five Three), where parents celebrate the growth of their seven, five, and three-year-old kids.
Shichi Go San (七五三)
According to the article 七五三 on Japanese Wikipedia, one prevailing theory holds that the origin dates back to December 24, 1681, in the Edo period (Edo: 1603 to 1868).
On that date, Shichi Go San first took place to pray for the health of the lord of Tatebayashi castle (in present-day Tatebayashi City, Gunma), Tokugawa Tokumatsu (徳川徳松).
Where to Visit
For the ritual of Shichi Go San, parents usually take their seven, five, and three-year-old children to a Shinto shrine near their house.
However, the number of families that go to famous shrines (remote from their homes) has been increasing in recent years.
Chitose Ame (千歳飴)
During the Shichi Go San festival, parents give Chitose Ame (千歳飴: Thousand Age Candy) to their seven, five, and three-year-old children to wish for their longevity.
Once called Sennen Ame (千年飴: Thousand Year Candy), Chitose Ame consists of Kouhaku (紅白: red and white)-colored long stick candies.
Source: Youtube (千歳飴が出来るまで)
It comes in auspicious paper bags with words such as 寿 (Kotobuki), 祝 (Iwai), or 松竹梅 (Shochikubai).
The hard candy’s main ingredients are starch syrup and sugar, and you can roughly know the making if you watch the video above.