Niinamesei, or the Great Festival of Thanksgiving, is a national holiday in Japan and originally a harvest festival.
Niinamesai is the most important Shinto rite.
It is performed in
order to make an offering of the first fruits of a year's grain harvest, thanking the deities for their blessing and also sharing the food produced by these first grains with the deities.
Shichigosan is also known as the 7-5-3 festival because on this day parents take boys of three and five years old and girls of three and seven to give thanks to the gods for a healthy life so far and pray for a safe and successful future.
Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion and Shintoists generally follow the
Since Japan adopted the solar calendar in 1873, the New Year celebrations start on January 1.
However, in rural Japan, villagers continue to follow the lunar calendar and Oshogatsu is the Lunar New Year. On New Year's Eve, shortly before midnight, Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times to remember Japan's hardships, and to send out the old year and usher in the new. At dawn Oshogatsu starts with a Hatsumode (the first visit of the year to a shrine or a temple) to pray for a good and happy year.