MiyamairiMiyamairi is a newborn baby's first visit to their local Shinto shrine. It's similar in some respects to Christian baptism.
Shichi-go-sanShichi-go-san is a ceremony for 3 and 5-year-old boys and 3 and 7-year-old girls.
In the past, children weren't allowed to grow their hair until they became 3 years old. Kids under 3 had their heads shaven (this is no longer observed). Shichi-go-san celebrates reaching the ages that children can grow their hair and wear kimono (and hakama).
Primary School, Junior High School and High School GraduationIn Japan, kids have graduation ceremonies for primary school (shougakkou), junior high school (chuugakkou) and high school (koukou).
University Entrance Exam ResultsMost Japanese high school students prepare for university entrance exams for many years. Over 80% of students attend night and weekend classes that prep students for the big test. Exam results day is a major event in a young person's life.
Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi)Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) is a Japanese national holiday on the second Monday of January. People who've turned the age of majority (20 years old) dress in kimono and attend a ceremony at their local city hall. Afterwards, there are photos and drinking parties.
University / College GraduationA large percentage of Japanese attend university or college. Graduation ceremonies take place in the spring. Women wear kimono and men (usually) wear suits.
WeddingThe marriage rate in Japan has fallen for the past 50 years. These days, only 55% of Japanese women are married by age 29. Japanese weddings tend to be expensive and elaborate. In many cases, the bride changes during the reception. Many Japanese brides wear both a western style wedding dress and a kimono (each can cost over 1 million yen).
Yakudoshi (unlucky ages)According to the Shinto religion 18, 32 and 36 are unlucky ages for women. For men it's 24, 41, & 60 years of age (according to the Western way of counting ages). The years before and after unlucky years is also somewhat unlucky.
Men and women flock to shrines in their unlucky years to pray for better luck.
Kanreki (60 years old)According to Japanese traditions, your 60th birthday (kanreki) is special. On your 60th birthday you've gone through the years of the Chinese zodiac 5 times and returned to your birth zodiac. This is seen as a rebirth.
Kanreki is celebrated by wearing a red cap, red vest and sitting on a red zabuton during your birthday party. In Japanese culture, the color red symbolizes babies (akachan).
It's more common for men to celebrate their kanreki. Women often prefer to keep their 60th birthday quiet.
Hakuju (99 years old)In Japan,your 99th birthday is considered your "white" birthday. This is a play on kanji. If you subtract the Kanji for one (一) from the kanji for one hundred (百) you get the kanji for white (白). Therefore, 99 is considered a special "white" birthday. Such plays on kanji are common in Japanese traditions.