Children’s Day in Japan


May 5th, is the last national holiday of Golden Week in Japan. It has been officially called Children’s Day ever since 1948, before it’d been called “Boys Festival”. ——If you remember, girls have their special day on 3rd of March as the counterparty. It is a day, like any other Children’s Day in the rest of the world, to celebrate children’s happiness and wellness. Families with boys display Samurai helmets(兜) and armor(鎧) inside their houses, sometimes, together with Carp streamers(鯉のぼり) sailing with the wind under the sky. According to local customs, Samurai helmets and armor can be displayed until boys reach 20 years old, yet the carp streamers are only being displayed under the age of 7. Carps are well-known by their powerful swimming against upstream currents. In the ancient Chinese legend, a vigorous carp would be transformed into a Loong (Chinese dragon), the most respectful legendary creature, in the end of the stream, once successfully jumped out of a so-called Dragon Gate. Thus, displaying carp streamer implies: boys will grow strong enough to conquer all difficulties in their lives with tenacity, gaining a successful life.

(Samurai helmets and armor, Carp streamers are being displayed at entrance hall of JST Ninomiya House)

Since each holiday has its special food in Japan, there are ones for Children’s Day as well. Japanese eat Kashiwamochi(柏餅), a traditional sweet that wrapped in kashiwa oak leaf. In some areas, people would also eat Chimaki(粽), an rice cake filling made from steamed sticky rice and wrapped in a bamboo leaf.

Golden Week is one of the best seasons for traveling, if you go on a domestic trip in Japan, you can see the colorful Carp streamers almost everywhere on your way. Not only at individual balconies in residential areas, some are being displayed in luxurious style as part of government event attractions. Hope the splendid seasonal landscape will make your trip even more joyful.

(Note: For those who live in Tokyo, Osaka region, please avoid traveling during Golden Week since a state of emergency declared on 23rd of April, due to COVID-19 virus infection concerns.)