Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kodomo No Hi

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

For the past month, brilliant, boldly-colored carp flags have flickered in the fresh, baby-blue skies with every breath of spring. In Japan, carp are famous for fighting their way upstream and leaping over waterfalls to get to their spawning areas, making them a symbol of the famous fighting spirit, valiant efforts, and success. Like rainbows fluttering over the slowly flooding rice feilds, koinobori are raised in the hope that young boys in Japan will grow up with the same admirable qualities. Samurai helmets and warrior dolls gaurd the windows of traditional shops and entrances of homes blessed with sons, inspiring boys throught the land of the rising sun to be strong and brave.

May is the month of purple flowers, with irises and wisteria crowning the countryside with kingly purples and violets. The iris, or shoubu, is another famous symbol of Kodomo no Hi. In Japanese, shoubu means both iris and military spirit (although the Chinese characters are different), and because the shape of the leaves resemble swords, they are used to decorate the samurai style Go Gatsu Ningyo (5th Month dolls).

Kashiwa mochi and irises. Image by att.japan

No holiday would be complete without its special treats, and Kodomo no Hi is no exception. Children are treated to kashiwa-mochi, a sweet rice cake filled with even sweeter bean paste and wrapped in an oak leaf. Chimaki, a sticky sweet cake wrapped in bamboo leaves, is also very popular.

Summer is here! Happy Kodomo No Hi (^-^)/

1 comment:

Abbey said...

wow, this post is a lot longer than it was before. Oishii chimaki... I got to have it twice last week.. wheeee!

I left you some words o'er at Ye Olde Jibune Noe Blogge.