Picture of shichigosan, a gala day for children of three, five and seven years of age (Shichi-go-san Iwai no Zu)
Painted by Utagawa Toyokuni III Around 1844-1848 (Kōka Period) Tokyo Shiryō Collection 07822-C3

The annual children's festival where three year olds could grow their hair, five year old boys could wear a hakama for the first time and seven year old girls could start wearing an obi belt with their kimono is recorded in such ancient texts as the medieval nobles' diary, but in the Edo period this took place amongst the populace and came to be known as the 'Sichi-Go-San' ('Seven-Five-Three').


'Shichigosan' is an event that takes place on November 15th and celebrates the growth of children. These days it is held all over the country, but originally it only took place in Edo and the surrounding areas.
People took their dressed up children to shrines and Kanda Shrine seems to have been a particularly popular destination. On the left hand side of the picture you can see a child attached to a lady on her back holding a chitose ame candy. Chitose ame also dates back to the Edo period.
The sign and seal on this picture says "Kunisada changed to Toyokuni II". Kunisada took over the name of his teacher Toyokuni in 1844 (first year of Kōka) and announced himself as his successor. However, in 1825 (8th year of Bunsei), the adopted child of the founder, Toyoshige, had already become the second Toyokuni and so the painter of this illustration is in fact Toyokuni III.

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