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In Japan there is a national holiday for children, known as Children's Day celebrated on May 5th. It is a day meant to appreciate and celebrate the children's health, growth, and happiness. The holiday originated as a celebration for boys and was previously called
Tango no Sekku while girls had their own holiday on March 3rd called Hinamatsuri. Since 1948, May 5th officially became a national holiday known as
Kodomo no Hi or Children's Day. The holiday is also a time for children to express gratitude to their mothers and fathers.
Similar to Hinamatsuri, there are certain objects put on display during the holiday. On Children's Day, carp-shaped streamers called koinobori are displayed and flown outside the house. These streamers are flown for around ten days and represent a family's wishes for their child to grow up healthy and strong. The koinobori are hung in a certain order, starting with Black on the top for the father, red or pink for the mother, than additional carps, one for each child descending by age.
In addition to the koinobori, a Kabuto (helmet used by ancient Japanese warriors) is also displayed in the house to represent the strength and health of the boy. Families will also have dolls of samurai (often representing childhood folk-tales like Momotaro or Kintaro) riding on a carp to signify strength and virtue.
Another common tradition during Children's Day is for the family to eat
kashiwa mochi, a rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in oak leaves. Unlike the leaves of the
sakura mochi, the oak leaves of the kashiwa mochi are not eaten. Oak leaves are used because they do not fall from the tree until the tree starts budding. This is meant to represent the harmonious flow from one generation to the next.
Celebrate Children's Day with your family in Japan or just come sample Kashiwa Mochi with Japan Deluxe Tours during a May Highlights Japan Tour or custom vacation.
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