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Cultural Festivals

Kodomo no Hi, Children’s Day

En Taiko performers at Children’s Day 2023. Photo by Julie Gursha.

Kodomo no Hi, also called Children’s Day, is commemorated each year in Japan on May 5th to celebrate the growth and good fortune of children. Portland Japanese Garden’s celebration of the festival will feature a range of family-friendly activities. Come listen to taiko performances, learn origami, enjoy displays of koinobori, or cloth carp streamers. Explore the Garden using a new bright and joyful map created by local Portland artist Mike Bennett, available at the entrance stairs in the Tateuchi Courtyard.

Guests attending the Garden’s Children’s Day celebration will notice our koinobori in the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation Courtyard and Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center. In Japan, these streamers are flown outside of homes and public buildings, creating a festive atmosphere from April through early May.

Meet Portland Japanese Garden’s beloved koi at the Zig-Zag Bridge next to the Heavenly Falls. Photo by Julie Gursha.

Joining the festive decorations will be the opportunity to learn more about real koi. These beloved fish that swim near the Zig-Zag Bridge and Heavenly Falls in our Strolling Pond Garden, are thought to symbolize courage and determination as they swim upstream and through powerful waterfalls. Experts will be near the Zig-Zag Bridge all day giving talks about koi and will be available to answer questions about them. We’ll also be showing our fun and informative Curious About Koi video in the Cathy Rudd Cultural Corner.

To plan your visit, please see the program below. (Schedule still being finalized.)

Children’s Day Program

All day: Koinobori Display in the Cathy Rudd Cultural Corner and Tateuchi Courtyard.

10:30 am – 3:30 pm: Origami workshop taught by Yuki Martin in the Yanai Classroom. She is the author of Super Cute Origami Kit: Kawaii Paper Projects You Can Decorate in Thousands of Ways!

10:30 am – 3:30 pm: Curious about Koi video viewings in the Cathy Rudd Cultural Corner

10:30 am – 3:30 pm: Discovery Map copies can be picked up in the Tateuchi Courtyard. This activity goes through various garden locations. Don’t forget to collect a prize before leaving – they will be available to pick up near the entrance stairs in the Tateuchi Courtyard.

10:45 am: Taiko performance by En Taiko at the Pavilion East Veranda

11:00 am – 3:00 pm: Koi expert Linda Montgomery will answer questions about koi by the Zig-Zag Bridge next to Heavenly Falls in the Strolling Pond Garden

11:45 am: Taiko performance by En Taiko at the Pavilion East Veranda

1:00 pm: Koi feeding by the Zig-Zag Bridge next to Heavenly Falls in the Strolling Pond Garden (time subject to change)

1:15 pm: Taiko performance by En Taiko at the Pavilion East Veranda

3:00 pm: Koi feeding by the Zig-Zag Bridge next to Heavenly Falls in the Strolling Pond Garden (time subject to change)

About Kodomo no Hi

Carp streamers are higher than the roof.
The biggest carp is the father.
The small carp are children.
Enjoying swimming in the sky.
– Lyrics to the Koi Nobori (carp streamer) song

Kodomo no Hi celebrates the growth and good fortune of children. The day was originally a celebration for boys called Tango no Sekku, meaning the fifth day of the fifth month. In 1948, the Japanese Government designated this day a national holiday named Children’s Day to honor both boys and girls.

In addition to koi, carp, samurai, irises, oak trees, and bamboos all symbolize strength. Families may also display replica kabuto (samurai helmets) or musha-ningyo (samurai dolls) in the tokonoma (alcove). Iris flowers are displayed in flower arrangements or enjoyed in a syobuyu (a bath with a bunch of floating iris leaves). Children eat kashiwa-mochi (a rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf) or chimaki (a dumpling made of sticky rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves, and tied with rush).

Thank you to the Juan Young Trust