Friday, May 05, 2006

Kodomo no Hi : Children's Day

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
For Kodomo No Hi (Children's Day), families raise colorful carp-shaped "Koinobori" flags, one for each member of the family. The largest and uppermost flag represents the father, followed by the mother, and small carp to represent children.

Children's Day (Kodomo-no-hi or Tango no Sekku) is one of the most popularly celebrated national holidays in Japan. Until recently, Tango no Sekku was the boys' day (also known as Feast of Banners) while the girls' day (Hinamatsuri) was celebrated on March 3. In 1948, the government decreed this day to be a national holiday to celebrate the happiness of all children and to express gratitude towards mothers. It was then renamed Kodomo no Hi.

May 5th marks the beginning of summer on the old lunar calendar and the begining of the 5th month, which according to the Chinese calendar was set aside to be a month for purification. To expel evil spirits and celebrate the future of their sons, families hoist koinobori (cloth carp streamers) from balconies and flagpoles. Gogatsu ningyo (5th Month Dolls) are displayed in homes and store windows with images of Kintarou, usually riding on a large carp, and a traditional Japanese samurai helmet, a Kabuto. Kintarou and the Kabuto are both symbols of a strong and healthy boy. Kintarou (金太郎) is the childhood name of a hero of the Heian period, famous for his strength as a child. It is said that Kintarou mounted on a bear, instead of a horse, and played with animals in the mountain when he was a young boy.

Some children may also take shyobuyu (a bath with floating iris leaves), and eat kashiwa-mochi (a rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf ) and chimaki (a dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves). Carp, samurai, irises, oak trees, and bamboos all symbolize strength.

Happy Kodomo no Hi!

11 comments:

AC said...

I like the pictures! Very nicely taken. Like you, I am also drawn to Japanese culture.

Anonymous said...

Great photos! What kind of camera and lenses do you use to take these shots, your geisha shots and the ones from Viet Nam? Thanks!

Melissa said...

Thans "Feel Good" and Hi anonymous!

Actually at the moment I use a tiny little sony cybershot. Just a simple click and shoot. Highly recommend it though! Small and light, good for traveling! Very durable too...Ive dropped mine God knows how many times and it still gets the job done.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa. The clarity is amazing. How many pixels does it have? Keep up the great photo work. You have a great eye.

Thanks again!

Shining Love Pig said...

Those are stunning pictures.

Melissa said...

Shining Love Pig: Arigatou! If I can take credit for the beauty of the things I take pictures of! (Doubtful)

Anonymous: My cybershot has 7MP. People always say you don't need that many, but I say, "THE MORE THE BETTER!" (^-<) *wink*

Anonymous said...

7 megapixels are amazing for that little camera. Your photos from Asia are beautiful. Are you working on a photo book?

19 Seconds Of Spring said...

Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the information about "Children's Day", Melissa... It must be a great event!
Michael

Melissa said...

Anonymous:

Funny that you ask! I would love to eventually have enough high quality images for a photo book. Recently a publisher has contacted me about using some of my images for a Daily Planner and Diary with a Japan theme. Its all very interesting (^-^)/

Anonymous said...

Sounds great, Melissa! Good for you!

Marius Muscalu said...

nice photos, interesting story...thanks for sharing...