Kodomo no Hi in Japan

May 9, 2013 Juju Kurihara Culture, festivals, History, Vocabulary Tags: 0 Comments

The 5th of May was Kodomo no Hi (the Boys´ Day/ こどもの日) in Japan. It´s said Kodomo, "child" in Japanese but it´s actually the day when people celebrate for male children. 

osakaya ningyo

This year I like to present this little Kintaro (金太郎) doll. Kintaro doll is one of the typical Boys´ Day decorations as well as armor, sword and Kabuto (helmet). Most of the cases, a male baby was born in a familia, the parents of the couple give a decoration wishing the boy to grow strong and healthy. 

The doll is in a very good condition, looks quite new. But actually this doll is more than 70 years old. The man standing behind the doll is the 18th owner of a Wagashi (Japanese traditional sweet) shop in Tokyo. This Kintaro was a present when he was born.

He was born a month after the World War II started. Since it was just a beginning, Japan still had lots of materiales in general. So if you look at the doll carefully, the material of Kimono is quite good and also the stitch is very well done. It´s made as if a proper Kimono for humans.

 

Both the owner of the sweet shop and Kontaro doll survived the War. As the owner has three girls, the doll wasn´t given to any of them and remained with him. But one of the girls (actually she´s my childhood friend) who has taken over the shop has a son, finally Kintaro doll has a new owner. However, the doll is decorated at the shop entrance and anyone who comes to the shop can see it.

koinobori

 

During the Golden Week, the sky in Japan was full of flying carps. Some are tied on to a pole and look like as if they are trying to swim up to the sky. Some are hanged like laundry and also swimming in the river of the sky. The colourful Koinobori (鯉のぼり) suits in the blue sky in the late spring.

By the way, these carp fish present a family. From the top black Koinobori, it´s father, then mother and the rest are children. A family who has a relatively big garden may have a big Koinobori like the photo and it has 5 carps and the top is a windsock. 

Koinobori is given to a family who had a baby boy to tell the God that the family has a boy and to ask for his protection. This custom started in Edo period (1603-1868). A Samurai family had a baby boy, they would put a flag at the entrance of the house for a celebration. Then it changed to a carp shape since carps are strong fish that they can live anywhere. So people wished their boys to grow strong. 

How about your country? Do you have a similar custom?

 

More festivals

Momo no Sekku

Kodomo no Hi(Boys´ Day)

Hinamatsuri

Shichigosan

Seijin no Hi

More Kodomo no hi is available at Mango Salute

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