The State of Shichigosan

As regular readers of this blog probably know, Shichigosan is a very popular autumn ceremony in which three, five, and seven-year-old children visit a jinja (or sometimes a Buddhist temple) dressed in very fancy (rented) kimono, and offer, with their families, a prayer of thanks for their healthy growth so far, and a request for continued protection. Like all events that involve going somewhere in a group, this has been disrupted by the pandemic, and the November 29th issue of Jinja Shinpō had a front-page article about this year’s situation. (It is important to remember that Japan was in a low-infection period during November, with under 200 infections per day for the whole country.)

Hië Jinja in Tokyo reported that numbers this year were back to normal, with no large change from 2019. Hokkaidō Jingū, in Sapporo, reported that numbers were still down on 2019, and even slightly down on 2020, but they had seen more people coming from distant parts of Japan this year than last. Yasaka Jinja in Kyoto reported that numbers were, like last year, about 30% down on 2019. Sumiyoshi Jinja in Fukuoka, Kyushu, said that there were more than last year, but still not back to normal levels. They reported that they had more people than normal on weekdays, and fewer on weekends, which made it difficult to set appropriate staffing levels.

All the jinja were still employing anti-infection measures, which caused some problems when, for example, only the parents were allowed to join the children in the prayer hall and grandparents got left outside. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic is still having an impact, but the results of an online survey suggest that most people who wanted to do it, did — only 18% had decided not to, although 30% had still not made a final decision when the survey was conducted.

Maybe things will be back to normal next year.

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