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Kodomo no Hi, Children’s Day

Kodomo no Hi, also called Children’s Day, is celebrated each year in Japan on May 5 to celebrate the growth and good fortune of children. This year, we will be honoring the celebration in a modified format, through a display of koinobori, or carp streamers, and kabuto, or helmet.

Children’s Day was traditionally called Tango no Sekku meaning the fifth day of the fifth month, and it was a celebration for the talisman and health of boys. After World War II, in 1948, the event was designated a national holiday to respect and honor both girls and boys for their individual strength and growth.

From April to early May, koinobori (carp streamers), are flown outside of homes and public buildings. Koi symbolize courage and strength as they swim upstream and through powerful waterfalls. Japanese families also display kabuto (helmet), or musha-ningyo (warrior dolls) with their sword, bows, and arrows.

On Children’s Day, Japanese people put shobu (sweet flags) leaves into the bath as they are believed to keep evil spirits away. Special ceremonial delicacies for Children’s Day include: kashiwa-mochi (steamed dumplings with sweet bean paste wrapped in oak leaves) and chimaki (sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves).