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Every fall, parents in Japan who have children that are three, five, or seven years old celebrate something called Shichi-Go-San (literally “Seven-Five-Three”). The family heads to a Shinto shrine, where the priest performs a blessing for girls aged three and seven and boys aged five, praying for them to have long and healthy lives.

But since some pet owners will argue that their animal companions are their children, certain shrines now offer Shichi-Go-San blessings for pets, too, some of whom show up wearing delightful pet kimono!

Shichi-Go-San for pets is a recent trend, and is still only offered by a handful of shrines. The most popular place to take your dog or cat for the blessing is Ichigaya Kameoka Hachimangu, located a short walk from the Ichigaya subway station in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. The shrine began its pet Shichi-Go-San services in 2009, and last year performed the ceremony for roughly 350 pets, some of whom travelled with their owners from as far away as the northeastern Tohoku and central Kansai regions of Japan.

This isn’t some condensed version of the ceremony performed for human children, either. Pets receive the same blessings as are traditionally conveyed at Shichi-Go-San, as seen being performed here while the animal sits on its owner’s lap.

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At the conclusion of the rites, kirinuki, a mixture of rice and small pieces of paper said to have spiritually purifying properties, is sprinkled over the animal.

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Ichigaya Kameoka Hachimangu charges a fee of 5,000 yen (US$42) for the ceremony, which is performed individually for each owner. If you’ve got multiple kitties or pooches, you’ll be happy to know that up to three animal housemates can be blessed in unison, and owners also receive a Shinto amulet, bottle of blessed sake, and wooden ema board on which to write a wish and hang inside the shrine grounds.

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The shrine will not be performing pet Shichi-Go-San ceremonies on November 7, 8, 14, or 15, as those are the peak periods for blessings for human children. Just about any other day in the fall or early winter seems open, though, although advance reservations are required.

Reservations can be made by emailing Ichigaya Kameoka Hachimangu between now and December 15 at and providing the following information:

1. Owner’s name (飼い主様のお名前)
2. Address (ご住所)
3. Phone number (お電話番号)
4. Pet’s name (ペットのお名前)
5. Pet’s age (ペットの年齢)
6. Number of human/animal attendees (参列される方の人数・ペットの頭数)

Shrine information
Ichigaya Kameoka Hachimangu / 市谷亀岡八幡宮
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Ichigaya Hachimancho 15

Related: Ichigaya Kameoka Hachimangu blog
Source: Ichigaya Kameoka Hachimangu blog via Japaaan
Images: Ichigaya Kameoka Hachimangu blog