Children’s Day in Japan

By Tokyo Mothers Group
May 5, 2014
Families

Children's Day, or Kodomo no Hi as it is called in Japanese, is one of the holidays that make up Golden Week in Japan. Celebrated on May 5, it is also one of the most enjoyable holidays of the year. Originally a celebration of boys, it has been changed to include the celebration of the life, health and happiness of all children. Some of the old boy-centric traditions are still practiced, but girls also have Hinamatsuri, or Girls' Day, which is celebrated on March 3, as their special day.

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One of the easiest ways to tell that Children’s Day is approaching is seeing the koinobori (carp flags) flying outside people’s houses or from balconies. Each carp represents a member of the family.   It’s also still very common for families with sons to display a kintaro doll and/or a kabuto helmet (traditional samurai style helmet), both of which represent a strong, healthy boy. You’ve probably seen very ornate displays of these objects in department stores and shops like Toys ‘R’ Us in the run up to the day. A lot of families also still pass down the displays from generation to generation, which is a wonderful tradition, too. The actual story of Kintaro (a Heian period hero) is a very interesting one and a popular legend in Japan.

You can find many fun and interesting activities around your neighborhood to mark Children’s Day. There will usually be some kind of festival happening at your local shrine, special events at department stores, parks and amusement areas, and discounted entry to many places. It’s a great day to spend time with your family and be thankful for and enjoy the time you have with your children.

By Stephanie Kawai

Photo by Jorge Pazmino