This omamori (amulet) and paper bag packaging would have been used during the Shichigosan (7-5-3) Festival. (a) shows the packaging for chitose-ame, the "candy of a thousand years" that is given to children by a priest when they visit a Shinto shrine during the Shichigosan Festival. Chitose-ame was traditionally thought to bring children the good luck to live for 1,000 years. The long white bag has a silver-colored handle in the shape of a figure 8 with multicolored bird (probably a phoenix) painted on the lower half; bird's tail feathers wrap around the top handle. Below the handle, the name of the shrine is stamped on bag. Under the shrine's name the word "kotobuki" ("good luck/congratulations") is written. Beneath that is a good luck symbol of straw wrapped in noshi (ritual packaging paper). The picture on the front of the bag represents symbols of luck and longevity, including a crane, a pine tree, cherry blossoms, bamboo, and a tortoise. The picture on the back of the bag represents a shrine, torii (gate), shrine dancers, and Mt. Fuji in the background. In the foreground are three children: a seven-year-old girl, a three-year-old girl, and a five-year-old boy, wearing dress kimono and carrying chitose-ame bags with an inuhariko dog in front.
(b) refers to the omamori amulet. The omamori is a purple silk brocade bag with embroidered gold lettering. The bag is closed at the top with a white cord tied in a decorative knot and contains a paper with a prayer or message of good luck. The omamori is tied to the handle of the chitose-ame bag. This omamori is intended specifically for children of the ages celebrated in Shichigosan; it is not to be opened by the recipient but rather kept as a talisman. People carry omamori as a talisman of good luck or as protection against misfortune; they can also be used to bring forth divine help in realizing a specific wish.
The Shichigosan ("Seven-Five-Three") Festival, held annually on November 15th, marks a rite of passage and celebrates the growth and health of three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys. It is believed to have originated during the Heian period (794-1185), and its current customs have remained fairly consistent since the Meiji period (1868-1912). Girls and boys of the specified ages, considered lucky ages, dress in kimono and visit Shinto shrines, where they receive chitose-ame.