Last Wednesday was the national holiday known as Culture Day (Bunka No Hi). I celebrated by visiting Meiji Shrine, one of the most famous Shinto shrines in the Tokyo area. There were two big attractions that drew a crowd: 7-5-3 Day (Shichi-Go-San Hi) and mounted archery (yabusame). 7-5-3 Day is when parents take their 3 or 5 year old sons and 3 or 7 year old daughters to a shrine to pray for their health and growth. Basically I saw lots of cute kids dressed up in their traditional Japanese clothing. Toward the back of the shrine they held an autumn Culture Day festival. There were people demonstrating various forms of martial arts as well as yabusame. Most of the yabusame competitors were so fast that I couldn’t actually get a picture of them hitting the target, but I think I may have found a sport that I actually enjoy watching.
My guess is that many people reading this blog do not regularly go to shrines, so I wanted to conclude with a little “visiting a shrine 101.” Follow this link to Meiji Shrine’s page about proper shrine visiting etiquette. The left-hand side of the page also has various other interesting links for you to check out about Meiji Shrine.