I was looking at the following sentence under a picture that I unfortunately cannot provide:


I believe the sentence reads "It's a picture of 753"... which doesn't make sense.

I know that we have the numbers here 七 (7), 五 (5) and 三 (3). However, I don't believe numbers are structured like this in Japanese, as far as I know. Methinks this sentence is trying to say the number 753, but in Japanese, wouldn't that be instead written as 七百五十三?

Am I wrong, am I merely interpreting this incorrectly, or is there another problem I am overlooking? May someone please help me and correct me if I am wrong?


  • 5
    Your thinking too literally. Have you tried looking up 七五三 in a dictionary? Feb 26, 2019 at 22:31
  • @user3856370 No, I came to ask here. I don't have a dictionary that specialises in translating Japanese; and my teacher tells me not to use Google Translate as it is inaccurate half the time. (My teacher isn't here, now. I am just studying this for homework.)
    – Mr Pie
    Feb 26, 2019 at 22:33
  • 5
  • 3
    jisho.org and to some extent wwwjdic are decent online Japanese dictionaries once you know how to use them. They're very different to using Google Translate (on which I agree with your teacher - it is unreliable and especially bad if you're dealing with words that have nuance or metaphorical meanings).
    – ConMan
    Feb 27, 2019 at 0:56
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    For those who can't picture what a 七五三のしゃしん might look like, see search.yahoo.co.jp/image/…
    – user4032
    Mar 2, 2019 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


Just to make a proper answer, 七五三 (read “shichi-go-san”, not “nana-go-San”) refers to a traditional Japanese festival and is used in the literal meaning “seven, five, three”. From Wikipedia:

Shichi-Go-San (七五三, lit. "Seven-Five-Three") is a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three- and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old (and less commonly three-year-old) boys, held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children.

At a guess, the sentence refers to someone’s photo from this festival.

By the way, it’s not the case here but long numbers written out positionally with Kanji for numbers (plus ○ for zero) without 千、百、十 etc. do happen in Japanese (e.g. in price lists) although they’re rare in spoken speech AFAIK.

  • 2
    This is not a holiday in the sense of "day off".
    – naruto
    Mar 1, 2019 at 22:32
  • おめでとうございま! You have earned yourself a giant green tick! :D
    – Mr Pie
    Mar 2, 2019 at 6:45

Shichi-Go-San (七五三) is a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan, held annually on November 15, in which three- and seven-year-old girls and five-year-old (and less commonly three-year-old) boys, along with their parents, visit shrines to pray for their growth and well-being. As it is not a national holiday, it is generally observed on the nearest weekend.

It’s a tradition going back at least a thousand years to the Heian period, when nobles would celebrate their offspring’s transition from childhood to middle childhood.

Following the visit, parents generally buy Chitose-ame (千歳飴) for the children. The candy is shaped like a stick and comes in a bag that carries illustrations of cranes and turtles--two animals that are symbols of long life. Chitose literally means a thousand years and is used to denote very long periods of time. The candy and the bag are both expressions of parents' wish that their children lead long, prosperous lives.

The shichi-go-san ceremonies held to celebrate the child's growth are not always carried out anymore. Nowadays they are often replaced by just a visit to the shrine to express gratitude and pray for the child's future. Another modern trend is for parents to take the opportunity to have their child photographed in ceremonial finery, and send the photos out to friends and family.

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