Dogs and cats are increasingly becoming the focus of attention in this unique cultural shift.
Natsuki Aoki, a 33-year-old pet owner from Hiroshima, recently took her two Chihuahuas on a plane ride to Tokyo to participate in this special blessing ceremony. She expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “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.”
The Zama Shrine, which has a history dating back to the 6th century and is located about 35 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, introduced a designated prayer site for pets in 2012. This shrine now conducts Shichi-Go-San rituals, traditionally celebrated in mid-November, where pet parents can pray for the well-being and happiness of their furry companions.
The Shichi-Go-San ceremony, which translates to “Seven-Five-Three” in Japanese, is typically observed by parents who dress their children in kimonos and bring them to a Shinto holy site for blessings and prayers as they reach the ages of seven, five, or three. However, this tradition is evolving, and pet owners are embracing the opportunity to include their beloved dogs and cats in the blessings and celebrations.
As Japan’s population continues to age and birth rates decline, this unique cultural phenomenon reflects the changing dynamics of family life and the growing significance of pets in Japanese society.