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Japanese Children’s Day – Kodomono-hi Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Culture

Today is May 5th, which is a national holiday in Japan, called Children’s Day (Kodomono hi, 子供の日、こどものひ) Kodomono-hi is the day to respect every child’s personality and to celebrate their happiness. But this day is also the day to be thankful for mothers. Originally, May 5th was called Tango no Sekku (端午の節句、たんごのせっく) to celebrate mainly boys since we have Doll’s festival on March 3rd annually. However, eventually, May 5th was renamed to Kodomono-hi to include ALL children.

Koinobori, 鯉のぼり -Carp Streamers 

In Japan, around this time of the year, you will see many carps swimming in the sky.These carp streamers are called Koinobori(鯉のぼり、こいのぼり). Carps means Koi(鯉、こい) in Japanese. In old Chinese legend, it was believed that carps that swam upstream turned into dragons. Typically for each house, every member of the family has his/her own carp attached to the same pole.

The top black carp called, Magoi(真鯉、まごい) represents the father. The second red carp, Higoi(緋鯉、ひごい) represents the mother. The smallest carp, also called Higoi(緋鯉、ひごい) represents the child. You will have more smaller carps if you have more children in the house.

Below is the popular Koinobori Song.



Gogatsu Ningyo – 五月人形 -Warrior Doll

Koinobori is not the only thing people display for Kodomono-hi. Gogatsu Ningyo(五月人形、ごがつ にんぎょう)is a warrior doll for Children’s Day. The doll symbolizes the strength and courage for children. Most of the house with boys will have a display like the one below.

Watch how this family puts together the Gogatsu Ningyo.


Chimaki – ちまき  

Chimaki is sort of like a dumplings or rice cakes that are wrapped in bamboo leaf. You can find Chimaki easily at any supermarkets around Children’s Day in Japan, but they are ony available this time of the year.

Japan is not the only country to celebrate Children’s Day as many other countries also celebrate Children’s Day on June 1st. How about in your country? Do you celebrate Children’s Day?

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About the Author:keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.