Koinobori (鯉のぼり) is a set of carp-shaped banners that float and flap in the air for the Children’s Day celebrations from April to May. There is something strangely fascinating about koinobori on a beautiful sunny day. Koinobori display various colors, designs, and sizes which stream freely and strongly in the wind, which always touches my heart. I can feel that summer is coming whenever I see koinobori in my city.
Nowadays, rather than each family or house celebrating individually, many cities and local communities seem to celebrate Children’s Day with a large number of koinobori. Some of these events are really picturesque. In this article, I’ll be introducing some gorgeous spots to see Koinobori in the Kanto (関東) area!
According to Koinobori-Japan and Wikipedia “koinobori” entry, a carp is regarded as a symbol of promotion and strength in Japan. It’s said that the figures of carp climbing up waterfalls impressed people in old times. Children’s Day is a celebration for boys, therefore koinobori are also strongly associated with boys.
Rich Japanese people started to celebrate Children’s Day with koinobori exhibited outside of their houses in the middle of the Edo (江戸) Era and the custom has spread across the nation.
Tatebayashi Koinobori no Sato is a world famous Koinobori Festival that takes place in Tatebayashi City (館林市) in Gunma Prefecture (群馬県). It holds a Guinness World Record for the number of carp banners displayed, which is more than 5000 banners every year.
In 2017, this event is being held from March 25th to May 7th. Koinobori is exhibited in five different areas of Tatebayashi City: Tsuruuda-gawa River (鶴生田川), Morinji-gawa River (茂林寺川), Tsutsujigaoka Park Inn (つつじが岡パークイン), Kondo-numa Marsh (近藤沼), and Tatara-numa Park (多々良沼公園). Tsuruuda-gawa River display is a 15-minute walk from Tatebayashi (館林) station, which can be found on the Tobu Isesaki line (東武伊勢崎線).
Uzuma no Koinobori takes place in Tochigi City, Tochigi Prefecture (栃木県栃木市). You can find one thousand carp banners over Uzuma River (巴波川). You can also enjoy Uzuma River boat ride while seeing beautiful koinobori. In addition to this, Tochigi City is worth visiting even without Koinobori. The old and traditional streets are splendid.
Tochigi City has a perfectly informative English website and even free wi-fi within the city. Koinobori information for 2017 is not yet disclosed. Generally, it’s held sometime between April and May. Please keep an eye on the website!
If you don’t feel like taking a two-hour train ride from Tokyo to see Koionobori, this is good news! Tokyo Tower also holds a Koinobori Event with 333 carp banners! At night, they also light up! Tokyo Tower Koinobori is available for viewing from the 5th of April to the 7th of May 2017.
Actually, there are many other Koinobori events throughout Japan. However, this time, I confine myself to introducing these relatively accessible places above. Because the koinobori celebration is more popular and thriving in less populated areas, a bit far away from Tokyo, it is difficult to get to some koinobori areas without a car.
If you are interested, there is also a fantastic Koinobori spot in my neighborhood, at Unga Mizube-koen Park (水辺公園). Every year, they seem to upgrade the number of carp banners! There won’t be thousands of them at Mizube-koen Park, but it’s still impressive.
Mizube Park is a three-minute walk from Unga Station (運河駅) on the Tobu Urban Park Line (東武野田線). On the morning of April 22nd, 2017, there is a local Saturday market, too. Unfortunately, this market might be canceled if it rains. This koinobori event is annually held sometime from April until May. In early May, you will for sure find koinobori near Unga Station. Have a wonderful koinobori experience!