Anthony’s Shichi-Go-San Hakama Portrait
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Anthony two weeks shy of seven years old -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
two weeks shy of seven years old

As I mentioned the other day, today Anthony had his first shichi-go-san event, an important milestone in Japanese culture for kids aged six, four and two. The event's name means “seven, five, three”, and represent the ages when you add a year to account for their time in the womb.

The Heian Shrine near our place is very popular for this, and last year I would sometimes just hang out around the shrine during and photograph the kids, the results of which I've posted in “Kids in Kimono: Cute Enough to Eat”, “More Kids in Kimono: Still Cute”, and one section of “How I Spent My Saturday in Kyoto”.

This time it was my kid, who is far cuter than the others (of course), so I did my fair share of photography, and then some. I used two camera bodies and three lenses, but I didn't get many photos – only 508 – because photography was not allowed within the inner areas of the shrine itself. Of the 508 photos, about 100 vie for status as my favorite. I foresee many postings on this in my blog's future.

Continued here...

All 7 comments so far, oldest first...

How does Anthony do it? He somehow, magically, manages to do two completely opposite and mutually exclusive things at the exact same time: He both looks astonishingly cute AND he looks like you.

I’m looking forward to the top 100 photos!

— comment by Anthony's Aunt Marcina, USA on October 13th, 2009 at 9:46am JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink


— comment by Nils on October 13th, 2009 at 11:12am JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I hope I’m not being crass in asking, but how much do those kids’ kimonos and hakanas run (in US $)? I mean the really nice ones for the shichi-go-san? They are gorgeous and quite elaborate!

I don’t know how much to buy, but rental was $200ish. It’s spendy, but parents shell out for stuff like this for their kids. I see a cause-effect there…. 🙂 —Jeffrey

— comment by Lin on October 13th, 2009 at 12:58pm JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

I can totally understand how proud and happy you must be to see your own kid in this event.

A couple of questions, though… Everywhere I’ve read about it, Shichi-go-san is said to be for boys of 3 and 5 and girls of 3 and 7. I know it’s said to have regional variations, and it’s probably evolving slowly into the modern age too (in regards to equality and such), but I’ve never heard of boys doing it at age 7 before. It looks really great, though.

I guess this also makes me wonder if there’s a reason why you didn’t do it at 3 or 5. Is the tradition down there in Kyoto to do it at 7 for boys, or what?

The other thing is that according to Japanese Wikipedia it is often as you say done according to the traditional way of counting age (数え年), whereby your age starts at 1 when you’re born and increases every year at New Year, but it is increasingly being done according to the Western system (i.e. age starting at 0 and increasing on your birthday each year). If that is indeed the case, perhaps it’s more a festival for kids of 2-3, 4-5 and 6-7. But Shichi-roku-go-yon-san-ni just doesn’t sound quite so catchy I suppose…

Working with people’s ages can be really painful when we’re all born in different months and yet want to lump ourselves into year groups, so it’s no surprise that a festival based on this could be a bit weird numerically.

It indeed seems uncommon for older boys to do it, but when parents have not gotten around to having done it at three and five, seven starts to look really appealing despite the tradition. As I mentioned in the post, the counting system does start at 1 at birth for these kind of pseudo-religious culturally-traditional events, but no one uses these ages in real life, and (personally) I’d never heard of the “increases at New Year” bit. &Jeffrey

— comment by Thorf on October 13th, 2009 at 4:29pm JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

Very classy kimono!

— comment by Zak on October 13th, 2009 at 7:10pm JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

The way I learned it in Japanese history class (if I remember correctly), everyone starts off at one because in ancient times they didn’t have zero. Makes sense. And, it was simpler for everybody to gain a year together (at New Year’s) because calendars weren’t as widespread.

— comment by Zak on October 13th, 2009 at 7:52pm JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink

A very cool (5 degrees C) in Burlington Ontario.

You’re right, your son is “cute!” Scary eh? And in ten years, then what?

The black and white manipulation is quite good.

I had to look twice as I thought the fan extended
beyond the older gentleman, however on second glance
realized the fan was short. Nonetheless,
the whole procedure looks great. Best wishes then…

Keep smiling.

— comment by Bryce Lee on October 14th, 2009 at 11:42am JST (8 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink
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