Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Japan's Children's Day

Continuing with my APA Heritage Month Celebration...

May 5 is "Kodomo no hi" in Japan. The 5th day of the 5th month.  The date was the date of the traditional Tango no Sekku (端午の節句) festival, originally commonly known as Boys' Day, whereas Girls' Day was celebrated separately on March 3. The holidays were merged in 1948. On the right are "koinobori" - carp flags - which are flown on Children's Day, symbolizing success and each one represents a male in the family.

Even though the holidays were "merged", it was still a very boy-centric holiday when I lived in Japan. Traditionally, it is a day to pray for the health of boys in your family. Families take pictures of their boys in front of "shrines" adorned with samurai helmets and horses. See the picture here, taken of my youngest son while we lived in Tokyo. 
The "koinobori" flags are pictured at the top and you can see the samurai helmet at the center of the display. I must admit, there are lots of things in the display for which I don't know the significance...I just enjoyed the day off of work and was able to spend time with Japanese friends. 

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