"Chigo, small children 稚児.
Originally, the word means babies who are still nursing 乳子(ちご)."
"They are also the children who perform certain duties in a temple, nowadays mostly dancing and taking part in a parade."
"In former times also a name for the boys who served in temples and at the mansions of the royalty and lords."
/ / /
"[In Japan] children were thought of as mysterious beings in a liminal world between the realm of humans and gods."
"Because of this the gods could speak through them. For centuries prepubescent children in Japan have been chosen as chigo, or "divine children", who do divination and function as oracles."
"Even today children below school age still are allowed a somewhat heavenly existence, indulged and protected without many expectations or pressures."
This photo is from an album my spouse's uncle Elstner Hilton compiled in Japan between 1914 and 1918.
While Uncle Elstner was pretty good about annotating the photos that required an explanation of some sort, he did not date the pictures. So all we know is they date to between January, 1914 and December, 1918.