Kodomo no Hi: Celebrating Children’s Day in Japan

  • TRADITIONAL
  • CULTURE
  • Every 5th of the month of May, the Japanese celebrate Children’s Day, also known as Kodomo no Hi.

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    This is part of the Golden Week celebration, one day which is set aside to respect the unique personalities of children as well as their happiness. It was the sudden shift to Gregorian calendar that the celebration was moved to May 5th.

    Historical Background

    Children’s Day used to be called “Tango no Sekku” a long time ago and was celebrated during March 3rd of every year. It was even called “Boy’s Day” until recently. Girl’s Day, on the other hand, was known as Hinamatsuri. It was only in 1948 when the government decided to officially make Children’s Day a national one as a sign of gratitude to all children who contribute to our world’s happiness.

    The Celebration

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    If you live in Japan, you may see carp-shaped flags being raised outside homes. This is what you call “koinobori.” It is also known as “satsuki-nobori.” Actually, these are windsocks which have been made by drawing patterns on paper, cloth or any non-woven fabric. Each of this carps represent a figure in the family. One carp each for the father, the mother and the child.

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    Every family also displays a Kintaro doll who seem to be riding a large carp. Kintaro is a legendary folk hero in Japan. He is a phenomenally strong toddler. He’s said to have fought monsters and demons and even beat bears in sumo wrestling. Some also believe in decorating a baby boy’s room with the dolls so that he will grow up to be as strong as him.

    Celebrate with Mochi Rice Cakes

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    Eating has always been part of festivals. A significant sweet served during this day is the Mochi Rice Cake. These are wrapped in oak leaves. They are of two kinds: kashiwa-mochi and chimaki. The former is a mochi which is filled with red jam while the latter is a sweet rice paste.

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