Dogs receive blessings during children’s celebration in Japan (VIDEO)

Animal News : Dogs receive blessings during children's celebration in Japan
Shinto priest Yoshinori Hiraga conducts a prayer for pet dogs during a Shichi-Go-San blessing, Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, Japan November 14, 2023, credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Dogs and cats were blessed on Tuesday in Japan during the celebration of Shichi-Go-Sa, a tradition where parents take their children to a temple at three, five, and seven years of age to wish for a bright future.

The trend of blessing dogs instead of children is catching on amongst pet owners as the country faces a declining birth rate. “The number of children is decreasing each year, and as a result, more and more people are pouring their love into their dogs and cats,” said priest Yoshinori Hiraga.

“We celebrate Shichi-Go-San for human children in November. For me, this is my child, so I decided to come here (to pray) at the same time as children’s Shichi-Go-San being celebrated,” the 47-year-old Mamiko Yamaura, owner of a three-year-old Shiba Inu dog, said.

Pets are family

The dog owners walked to the Inuneko Jinja, a small shrine dedicated to dogs, cats and all pets in the city of Zama in Japan. There, they prayed and received blessings from a priest. For many pet owners, their pets are an important part of their family.

“They are very important to me, like my own children. Today is the date of Shichi-Go-San, so I came here to pray that they will have a safe and healthy life with us together,” the 53-year-old Masayo Tashiro said.

“There aren’t many shrines that welcome pets and allow them to walk inside, so I think it would be great to see more places like this,” said Aoki Natsuki, who took her two three-year-old Chihuahua on a plane ride to get blessed.

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