Kodomo no hi   子供の日

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Carp floating wind 5 May, the feast of children in Japan.

Carp koi nobori paper floating in the air and rivers, along with the current.

The kabuto, miniature replica of the ancient armor of samurai offered to small Japanese boys on May 5

Kashiwa mochi, a sticky rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf, typical delicacy of the festival Kodomo no Hi.

Aerial carp

On May 5th, multicolored carp can be seen floating in Japanese gardens. The ancient festival of boys, now for all children, is still represented by ancient symbols.

Two months after girls' day, and while the cherry blossoms have yet to fall, it's time for the boys to have the honors in the spring schedule: May 5th, in an ancient celebration that blends Chinese influences and Samurai culture, Japan enthusiasm pours out for the festival of tango no sekku.

Day of koi nobori

On balconies, in gardens, above the river, the symbol of this particular day are floating in the breeze of spring: colorful carp images on paper or silk, hung by households with at least one boy. Carp, fish that travel up river against the current during spawning, are a symbol of courage and perseverance, and Japanese parents want to instill this in their male offspring.

Often seen hanging from bamboo poles, these koi nobori ("carpe mounted on a mast"), float in a group at the mercy of the winds. A big black carp symbolizes the patriarch of the home; a  red carp for the mother figure; then a carp for each child of the family.

China and the samurai

It is in first in the imperial court that the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival - brought to Japan around the sixth century, as well as the writing system and Buddhism - became popular. People celebrated the iris, which is also a symbol of May 5th: It is not unusual to see iris branches hung at the entrance of the houses this day.

But from the Kamakura period (1185-1333), this tradition had been lost and then recovered by the buke, samurai families. May 5th is the day when a little warrior receives from his father a part of his future armor. The feast of the iris was gradually replaced by a cultural celebration of the sword and the transmission of chivalry from father to son.

Today, Japanese families often offer their boys kabuto, miniature replicas of ancient samurai armor helmets. Richly gilded and decorated, they are enthroned behind glass in the main room of the house.

Mochi mochi

With carp, iris, and samurai culture, the 5th of May is a busy day for symbols. It's name gradually changed from tango no sekku ("Iris day") to kodomo no hi ("Children's Day") to become a celebration of all the "darlings" of Japan.

We then enjoy two recipes using rice, Chimaki (steamed rice wrapped in bamboo leaves) and kashiwa mochi (ceremonial rice that is reserved for the celebrations of the New Year, but here filled with mashed red beans and wrapped in an oak leaf).

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