Japanese Children’s Day – Kodomo no hi

We have a day each to celebrate and commemorate just about everything around us that makes us happy and Children’s Day is one of them. Japanese Children’s dayKodomo no hi is celebrated on May 5 every year to commemorate the healthy growth, happiness, the spirit of childhood and the innocence of children, in Japan.

It is a national holiday and is also a day where the mothers are honoured.

Japanese Childrens Day - Kodomo no hi

Image Courtesy: –Mark– used under the Creative Commons Licence

The festival was originally called ‘ Tango no Sekku ‘ and was symbolic of celebrating the birth of a baby boy and their fathers’ but as times passed by the practice also changed to include boys and girls, as well as recognizing mothers along with fathers. The government however, declared it as a national holiday in 1948.

So what do they do on Children’s day?

On Kodomo no hi, the boys in the family fly huge carp-shaped streamers known as Koinobori outside the house and display dolls of famous warriors and other heroes inside. The carp symbolises strength and success. According to the Chinese legend, a carp swam upstream to become a dragon.

The Samurai costumes along with the helmets are worn by the boys to symbolise the noble warriors of Japan which also denotes strength and courage.

Families on this day often take a bath sprinkled with iris leaves and roots to promote good health and ward off evil.

Japanese Childrens Day - Kodomo no hi 1

Image Courtesy: –Mark– used under the Creative Commons Licence

Kashiwamochi, a rice cake wrapped in oak leaves and filled with sweet bean paste are eaten on this day.

The boys in the family also display a model of Kintaro, a Japanese folk hero, who was known to have the strength of a superhuman and grew up to be a famous warrior, to represent bravery and valour.

Children also take the stage in traditional Japanese plays, held at the National Kasumigaoka Stadium in Tokyo. Kyogen, a kind of comic theater that was founded around 600 years ago is performed with traditional costumes and a unique acting style.

The theater is packed with parents and friends, who enjoy and cheer the performances.

Children’s day is also a day to thank and show respect for the teachers, parents, and relatives who care for them.

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