“Children’s Day” falls on May 5th

By TERRY - Last updated: 水曜日, 5月 5, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

 Today May 5th is the final day of the  consecutive  national public holidays of  the Golden Week like some other writes have referred to.  This  is ” Children’s Day” (/こどもの日,Kodomo no hi ) . This holiday used to be called “Tango no Sekku”(/端午の節句, May’s season-related festival) to celebrate boys which was said to have had started in China in the 3rd century.240px-Koinobori4797

  This old traditional festival became an offcial national holiday in 1948  to ” respect for personalities of children, praying for their happiness, and thank mothers as well”  as defined in the law. So, today this holiday is no longer just for boys but for  all children.  As for our Girls’ Day on march 3rd, I wrote before.http://www.tenkai-japan.com/2010/03/06/dolls-day-festival%ef%bd%9ehina-matsuri-on-march-3rd/


Yet we  still decorate colorful carp banners as a carp has been believed to have great courage and strength according to an old Chinese legend of  a carp becoming a dragon when it had climbed up a rough waterfall. That custom has been practiced  for a long time even in Japan, wishing boys be brave and healthy like carp.

   And also some parents especially  of  a boy  buy and decorate “a model” , “a toy” ,”a miniature” ,or even “real”  traditional Japanese samurai(/warrior)’s armor set  or a  helmet set imagesCAM3ZOM6imagesCAB27XZC hoping their child be strong, sound , staunched, and dauntless like a heroic samurai in olden days. imagesCAR15F0V


 Some parents decorate a doll of  Emperor Jinmu(/神武天皇), the legendary first emperor of  Japan who was said to have united this nation in 660 B.C.   So, technically speaking, this year is 2670 in the old Japanese calendar, though we don’t use it in daily practice anymore.  According to an anecdote in the Japanese myth, when Jinmu and his troop were in a struggling situation in a battle, suddenly the sky became very dark with thick clouds, a wild ice storm hit the area, and a golden kite came flying. The kite paused at the tip of  the emperor’s spear and began to shine, whose flashing sparks dazzled and repelled his enemy troop. Jinmu was believed to be  protected as he was believed to be a descendant  of  the goddess of the sun in Shintoism. So, a  Jinmu doll is usually designed as an armed warrior with the Golden Kite on  the tip of  his spear.    


And some people especially in eastern regions in the country also decorate a doll of   Shouki (/鍾馗), a Chinese deity to ward off evil and protect people.imagesCAQ0GXQV

  We also traditionally eat  kashiwa-mochi(/柏餅, a sweet rice cake wrapped in a oak leaf) on this holiday. Old oak leaves never fall until  new leaves grow, so, people respect the tree as a symbol of  a long posterity prosperity.


 It is also customary to take bath in iris leaves, for irises are herbs for good health and in Japanese an iris is called “shobu”(/菖蒲) which has the same pronunciaiton of  “尚武”(shobu) which means ” martial spirit”. 150px-Sweet-flag_bath,Shobu-yu,Katori-city,Japan

 On this Chidlren’s Day,  a lot of  events related to the purport of this holiday are held. for example,   children joined a parade in Tokyo Dome at the beginning of  a pro baseball game of  Yomiuri Giants and Yakult Swallows,  wearing paper warrior’s helmets, and carrying a big carp banner.   ‚±‚Ç‚à‚Ì“ú‚Q 

 With those various items and events we celebrate this special day for children for their happiness.

Posted in Lifestyle, Old and New Cultural Scenes in Japan • • Top Of Page
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