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Dogs in Japan are wearing kimonos and receiving blessings in a traditional ceremony called Shichi-Go-San in place of children this November.
Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three) is originally a traditional rite of passage in Japan for children aged three, five, and seven. Parents take their children to Shinto shrines to receive blessings from priests and offer thanks for having the kids reach their respective ages.
This year, fur parents are traveling to the Inuneko Jinja (Dog-Cat Shrine) inside the Zama Shrine to get their furry friends blessed for the traditional ceremony.
Like with children, fur parents dressed their fur babies up in kimonos for the traditional ceremony.
Zama Shrine priest Yoshinori Hiraga told Reuters, “The number of children is decreasing each year, and as a result, more and more people are pouring their love into their dogs and cats.”
Hiraga estimated that about 120 pets were bought to the shrine this season alone.
“We want to offer the pet owners a place at Zama Shrine for them to thank the gods when their dogs and cats reach the age of three, five, and seven,” Hiraga said.
Natsuki Aoki, a dog parent who took her two dogs to the Zama Shrine told Reuters, “There aren’t many shrines that welcome pets and allow them to walk inside, so I think it would be great to see more places like this.”
This pet version of the traditional ceremony highlights the declining birth rate in Japan, as the country’s health ministry recorded a 1.30 birth rate in 2021 and down to 1.26 in 2022 — which are below the 2.1 birth rate needed in order to maintain a stable population.