7-5-3

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Mount Fuji at the break of dawn

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In the vicinity of Mount Fuji

Autumn is a nice time to visit Japan as the weather is cool and if you are lucky, you can see the changing hues of the Japanese maples. As for me, I enjoyed a different experience… that of the 7-5-3 which is the Shichi Go San Festival that is held annually on 15th November.My original intent was to visit Meiji Shrine and to also enjoy a quiet picnic at the sprawling forest to just soak in the beautiful surroundings and tranquility. Meiji Jingu is an imperial Shinto shrine that is located in Shibuya, very close to the Yoyogi Park in Tokyo.

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Simplicity at it’s best

Construction of this shrine began in 1915 and it was built in the traditional nagare-zukuri style.

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Corridor at Meiji Shrine

This shrine is made up primarily of Japanese cypress and copper. What I like is the natural colour and texture of the timber pillars that is both understated and elegant.

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Wedding Procession at Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

Whilst wandering around in one of the quieter quarters of the shrine, I chanced upon a wedding procession. This Japanese couple looked resplendent in their traditional kimonos. It surprised me a little to see how solemn and quietly the wedding entourage proceeded. To rise to the occasion, I hurriedly stepped out of their way and waited at a corner till they passed me to capture this perfectly timed shot.

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Japanese family at Meiji Shrine during Shichi Go San Festival

I was amused by this playful little boy whose mother was coaxing him to stand up for a family portrait.

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The little red pouch is usually stuffed with red and white stick candies – considered lucky colours

7-5-3 is a time when proud parents dress their little ones in finery and as part of the tradition, pray for the well-being and happiness of their children.

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Mother and Son

The 7-5-3 fest dated back to the Heian period in Japan (794-1185) and it is steeped in the rituals and customs of the Japanese society at different times in their history. During the samurai era, the children would have their heads shaved at birth.Thankfully this tradition has been done away with and now both the 3 year old boys and girls make their first debut at their local shrine in their traditional garb.

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Waiting in line

7-5-3 is celebrated again when the boys turn 5 and the girls, 7. For the boys it would be the first time they don their official ‘hakama’ which is a formal Japanese trousers.

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Japanese girls at Asakusa Kannon Temple

Young girls celebrate 7-5-3 for the second time when they reach the age of 7 and this is when they wear the obi for the first time instead of simple cords around their kimonos.

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Pretty sisters at Asakusa

This sweet pair of sisters were more than happy to pose for me; Japanese kids are generally not camera shy. I was glad that their parents did not object to me taking their photos either but they kept calling out to the kids ‘hayaku, hayaku….. chan!’ They were running late and had to get to the main hall of the Asakusa Kannon temple at the appointed time for prayers.
Hey, but guess what? I was the happiest person that day to have bumped into all these beautiful people and not only capture them in my shots but also etched in my heart.

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