I have already written a little about today in my post about Golden Week, but I feel Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日) – Children’s Day – deserves a post of its own.
Today is Kodomo no Hi, originally Tango no Sekku (たんご の せっく) – Boy’s Day.
As I have already mentioned, carp flags (koi nobori) are flown everywhere to celebrate this day:
Also, there are displays of samurai dolls (gogatsu ningyo):
Some families also display a samurai helmet (kabuto) to drive away bad spirits and celebrate the future of their sons.
Today I was given a very special gift – traditional sweets eaten on Kodomo no Hi:
These are kashiwa-mochi and chimaki. Kashiwa-mochi are rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves. I have found a perfect explanation of why oak leaves are used here, so I won’t try to reword it myself:
The reason oak leaves are used relates to the fact that these leaves don’t actually fall until new buds emerge. For this reason, since the 17th century, people have seen kashiwa-mochi as a symbol to pray to, to ensure their family name will last forever. Today, kashiwa-mochi is still popular as a seasonal sweet for the Boys’ Festival, and is sold at all and every Japanese confectionery shop from April to May. Some mothers even make their own kashiwa-mochi for their children. To many Japanese people, kashiwa-mochi is not just a traditional sweet for eating on May 5th, but is also a reminder of a happy childhood and days of being nurtured by the love of adult relatives and friends.
Chimaki are sweet rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves.
You will notice in the photo above there is an iris flower. Traditionally, families took a bath with floating iris leaves on this day for medicinal purposes. This is called syobuya, and some families still practice this today.
Happy Children’s Day everyone! 😀