A girl with grandparents heading to Shiogama Shrine (Photo: Elena Lisina)

Shichi-Go-San Matsuri

Celebrating children at Shiogama Shrine in Miyagi Prefecture

Elena Lisina   - 2 min read

Visiting Shinto shrines in October or the beginning of November allows you to witness the children's holiday Shichi-Go-San. Shichi-Go-San literally means 'Seven-Five-Three' and indicates the ages of the children. The holiday itself is on November 15, but similar to holidays like Hinamatsuri (Girls Holiday on March 3) or Kodomo no Hi (Boys Holiday on May 5) this holiday is not for just one day. It can be celebrated all month before the date.

The main ceremony of Shichi-Go-San occurs at Shinto shrines all over Japan, but I had a pleasure to watch it at Shiogama Shrine in Miyagi Prefecture. One weekend in October many people with children dressed in beautiful kimono arrived at the shrine where they were greeted by miko (a shrine’s servant) and presented with colourful balloons. The ceremony was held in one of the shrine buildings and was attended only by the children and their parents so while I couldn't see the actual ceremony I could hear the sound of prayers and gongs. After the ceremony children returned with certificates and posed for photos with family members.

I sat aside and was joined by a family with two children. I congratulated a girl of 5 years of age, dressed in a gorgeous kimono and gave her a little gift - a Russian folk guardian doll. Her mother kindly gave me permission to take a photo of the girl with her gift. Afterwards, she ran off to play - even in their festive kimono, kids will be kids, they run around, playing with stones and chasing pigeons.

Shiogama Shrine itself is a beautiful old shrine and worth visiting at any time, but my visit was special as I could watch one of Japan's most pleasant of traditional holidays.

Shiogama Shrine is always open and free of charge.

Getting there

Shiogama Shrine can be reached in a 10-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama Station on the JR Senseki Line. To reach the main building there, you need to walk up 202 stone steps....

More info

Find out more about Shiogama Shrine.

Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I am interested in Japanese art, crafts, history and Shinto religion. Photography is my hobby, and there are many amazing places to capture in Japan.