Jusan-mairi (十三詣り) is a ceremony to mark the age of 13

Jusan-mairi (十三詣り) is a special tradition in Japan celebrated on April 13th (formerly March 13th in the lunar calendar). It’s a significant day for 13-year-old girls and boys who visit temples dedicated to Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akasagarbha Bodhisattva) to show gratitude for reaching this milestone and to seek blessings for wisdom, happiness, and good health in their future.

Jusan-mairi 十三詣り

Although Jusan-mairi shares similarities with other coming-of-age ceremonies like Shichi-go-san, Jusan-mairi is sometimes overshadowed by them. However, it’s gaining popularity among Japanese families who want to partake in this meaningful ritual.

Origin and History

Jusan-mairi dates back to Japan’s Heian period (794-1192). Legend has it that Emperor Seiwa held a coming-of-age ceremony at Horin-ji Temple in Arashi-yama, Kyoto, when he turned 13. This event sparked the tradition of visiting temples at age 13, evolving into the Jusan-mairi we know today.

Initially, a Kyoto custom, especially in Horin-ji Temple in Arashi-yama, Jusan-mairi became popular in the Kansai region and later in the Kanto region.

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Attire for the Festival

On Jusan-mairi, children wear traditional adult kimonos symbolizing their transition to adulthood. Boys typically wear haori and hakama, while girls may choose furisode, tomesode, homongi, komon, or hakama.

Girls often put on their first makeup on this day. Although it is very rare, some girls also apply makeup inspired by Kyoto’s maiko.

Rituals and Ceremonies

During Jusan-mairi, children participate in meaningful rituals. They write their favorite kanji characters on hanshi paper using a mohitsu brush before offering them to Kokuzo Bosatsu for blessings. After prayers, they receive amulets (omamori) for good luck and protection, often attached to their belongings.

Leaving the temple, children avoid looking back until they pass through the Torii gate. At home, they express gratitude to their parents and receive wishes for a healthy and happy adulthood from family members.

Jusan-mairi celebrates not just a physical transition but also marks a spiritual and cultural passage into maturity for young Japanese individuals.