Blackcabbit's World

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.

Etegami for GW – 04 Children’s Day

In Japan, May 5th is Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi/子供の日):

Children's DayHere 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.

Boy’s Day / Children’s Day

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.

———- *———- *———- *———- *———- *———-

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.

Kodomo no hi

Celebrating Children’s Day in school. The kids made their own Kabuto (samurai helmet) with newspapers. Scroll down to the end of this page to see how it’s done.

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.

This one featuring Momo-Taro (Peach Boy)
– Little boys’ well-loved fictional hero.

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.

Oops, I just realized from the photo that the set was incomplete.
The bow/arrow and a pair of Japanese iris ornaments were left out.

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.

The Large (black) carp for the daddy, medium (red) carp for mummy,
and small (blue) carp for Baby.

This year, my two-year-old boy and his friends in school (with a BIG help from the teachers) handmade their own Koinobori (carp shaped streamers) with Japanese wa paper, brightly dyed with various colors and decorated with origami papers.

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.

How to make an Origami Kabuto (Samurai Helmet)

Children's day


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)


5 comments on “Etegami for GW – 04 Children’s Day

  1. Takouhie N Nate Jensen
    November 26, 2014

    Thanks! The origami design is great as well. So glad we found this page!

  2. Anonymous
    November 23, 2014

    Could I use some of your photos for my daughter’s report on Japanese culture?

    • Takouhie N Nate Jensen
      November 23, 2014

      Sorry, my post was listed as anonymous. I was asking about the photos.

      • blackcabbit
        November 23, 2014

        Sure! Just include me in the bibliography page on your daughter’s report. All the best for her project! ^_^Y

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: