We know that Children’s Day is celebrated on various dates, and obviously in different ways. But Japan always offers something unique to celebrate a national holiday.
Historically, Japan Children’s Day (or called “Kodomo No Hi” in Japanese) has been a public holiday since 1948. Their long tradition from the 8th century separate children’s day into two days in a year: 3 March for girls and 5 May for boys. However, the latter has been chosen as the national holiday instead.
“Kodomo No Hi” is the day when Japanese celebrate the happiness of their children and to express gratitude toward mothers. The day on 5 May, originally called “Tango no Sekku”, has changed a bit in modern days to include both male and female children. It is now recognising family qualities of unity.
What Japanese Do on Children’s Day
While some countries might not have any tradition on Children’s Day, Japan has successfully made the day as a special occasion. Not only because of it’s a national holiday, but also several things to do during the day.
Here are what Japanese do on “Kodomo No Hi”:
Fly carp-shaped flags
“Koinobori” is a carp-shaped flags. The carp is choosen because of the Chinese legend which says a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon. When “Koinobori” blows in the wind, it looks like they are swimming! It’s believed to symbolise success and strength.
Japanese families raise “Koinobori” with one carp for the father, one for the mother, and one carp for each child. Recently, there are smaller flags and even miniature of “Koinobori”, since Japanese has moved into smaller houses and apartments.
Display samurai dolls
Inside their house, Japanese families also display samurai dolls, samurai helmets, and Kabuto. More often than not, the dolls represent traditional folktale characters. Kintaro and Momotaro, for examples. Kintaro was a hero in the Heian period and famously strong since he was a child. Thus, this ritual symbolises courage, vitality and strength.
Eat kashiwa-mochi and chimaki
Japanese children has special food to eat on their day. Those are kashiwa (oak) leaves that wraps mochi rice cakes filled with red bean paste, and sweet rice paste wrapped in bamboo leaves called Chimaki. Kashiwa symbolises strength when consumed by the children.
Bathing with iris leaves
It is customary, but Japanese families often take baths sprinkled with iris leaves and roots. It is thought to promote good health. Moreover, iris flowers are in full blossom in early May. Thus, iris flowers are symbolically placed in homes, in order to ward off evil.
Apart from the traditions mentioned above, Japan Children’s Day also filled with artsy events throughout the country. No wonder Japan is well known for the unique traditions and decorations on its Children’s Day. Do you agree?