In the past, this was celebrated as a rite of passage into middle childhood. The samurai class who required children up to the age of three, to have shaven heads, then used this festival as a celebration of being allowed to grow out their hair. Boys of age five could then wear hakama for the first time, and girls of age seven replaced the cords they used to tie their kimono with the obi. The ritual of visiting a shrine is to drive out evil spirits and wish for a long healthy life.
Needless to say, there were some beautiful kimonos and the bright sun meant that I got some gorgeous photos. We also saw a few shinto weddings, which I always find moving. We were lucky enough to get up close to one of the brides, wearing her white 'hood'. I was intrigued to watch her getting into her specially designed car that had a flip top roof to allow for height!