Jusan-mairi (thirteen year old children pray for knowledge, happiness and health to become adults) (十三詣り)

Jusan-mairi is a ritual that takes place on March 13 of the lunar calendar date (today, it is held one month later on April 13) where 13 year old boys and girls visit Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akasagarbha Bodhisattva) to give thanks that they have come of age and pray for future knowledge, happiness, and health. Thus it is also called as "Ichimei" (one name), "Chie-mairi" (a prayer for wisdom) or "Chie-morai" (being blessed with wisdom). Before praying, the children describe one letter they cherish on hanshi (standard-size Japanese writing paper) using a mohitsu (writing, painting) brush. For example, "命 (Life)" or "心 (Heart)." In case of girls for example, they present letters like "美 (Beauty)" or "雅 (Elegance)" to Kokuzo Bosatsu to be blessed, then they receive amulets and offerings when they return, and they say words of thanks to their parents at home. They continue using the chopsticks they used at the first meal on that day, and attach one amulet to their study desk and another to their school bag. All family members eat the offerings they bring back and celebrate the children's happy growth.

As there is a tradition to return the wisdom they receive if they look back after they walk out of the main hall on the way home, the children do not look back until they pass through the torii (an archway to a Shinto shrine) beyond the long and narrow stone steps, or until they cross the Togetsu-kyo Bridge even if they were told so (It is recommended to tell the children before they make the visit)

This custom is said to be derived from Kokuzo gumonjiho (Ritual of Praying to Akasagarbha to Increase Memory) with which Kukai greatly increased his memory. As 13 is the time of coming of age, this ritual became a tradition as a sort of rite of passage.

In the Kansai region, Jusan-mairi is more popular than Shichi-go-san (a day of prayer for the healthy growth of children of 7, 5, and 3), and especially that of Horin-ji Temple (Nishigyo Ward, Kyoto City) at Mt. Arashi-yama, Kyoto is famous.

This ritual has gradually became popular also in the Kanto region, and visitors participating in it are often seen at Senso-ji Temple from March to May.

In principle, the costume worn by boys are haori and hakama (Japanese male formal attire) and by girls is furisode (a long sleeved type of kimono usually worn on the coming of the age day) with a shoulder tuck, however, there are cases of "tomesode" (formal dress patterned only below the waistline worn by a married woman)," "homongi" (semi-formal kimono for women), "komon" (fine patterned kimono) or hakama which can be worn when they married. Girls often put on their first makeup (in many cases, it is heavy makeup) on this day. Although it is very rare, some girls wear and makeup like maiko (Japanese dancing girl in and around Kyoto or apprentice geigi or geiko) on this day in Kyoto.

[Original Japanese]