Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
In Japan, May 5th is Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi/子供の日):
Here is the fourth Golden Week’s etegami I did, featuring Kodomo no hi.
To all the children of the world, I wish you happiness and health.
Two years ago, I wrote about how my family celebrated Children’s Day for our son. I decided to update and repost it here for convenience sake. However, if you wish to read the original post, which include information about Hatsu zekku (初節句 / First Festival). Please click here.
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Children’s Day in Japan was previously known as Tango no sekku (端午の節句). In other words, it was Boy’s Day. The holiday was renamed as Kodomo no hi after World War II. Despite the name changed, it remains a boy-centered festival.
Like any Japanese household with sons, we displayed the Musha Ningyo (Warrior Dolls), or commonly known as Gogatsu Ningyo (五月人形 / May Dolls). A traditional set can be ridiculously expensive as it includes a splendid samurai armor suit and other exquisite warlike ornaments (i.e. sword, spears, bow, arrows, banners etc.) Hence nowadays, most families just use simple and contemporary Musha Ningyo to express the hope that their sons will acquire health, happiness, as well as samurai virtues such as courage and strength.
Fortunately for us, we had a set handed down from one generation. My husband’s grandparents bought a set for him when he was only a few months old. It was displayed once and then was kept in storage for more than 30 years. In 2010, the set was once again a stunning exhibit in the tatami room.
Another prominent symbol of Tango no sekku is the Koinobori (鯉のぼり/ Carp-shaped Streamers), which is usually placed at the most windy exterior of the house. The Koinobori, is a depiction of carps swimming upstream against strong currents. By hoisting the streamers, parents hope for stamina, strength, determination and life advancement for their sons.
Finally, just like every year, my boy will have his traditional Shobu yu (菖蒲湯 / Japanese Iris Bath) in the regular bathtub with his daddy tonight. The Shobu (菖蒲 / Japanese Iris) is the symbolic plant of Tango no sekku, which is why the festival is also known as Shobu no sekku (菖蒲の節句 / Iris Festival). It has strong association with Boy’s Day because of its long narrow sword-like leaf and the same sound as 勝負 (Shobu / Fight). Parents hope that their sons will have victory in any match or competition, or otherwise to put up a good fight even in defeat.
Japanese Annual Events (Main Page)
Four Etegami for Golden Week – 01 Showa Day
Etegami for GW – 02 Constitution Memorial Day
Etegami for GW – 03 Greenery Day
Baby Celebrations – the Japanese Way 3 (First Festival)