Kodomo No Hi: A Guide To Children’s Day In Japan

Kodomo No Hi: A Guide To Children's Day In Japan

Things change quickly in Japan and as soon as Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day) is over, the country starts preparing for Golden Week—and even more specifically, for Children’s Day. You may have noticed some strange fishes swimming in the sky in your neighborhood… Carp-shaped? Red, blue, black? To the untrained eye, it seems like an odd affair—colorful carp-shaped flags hoisted from balconies and ominous-looking samurai armor adorning family living rooms.

That’s right, May 5 in Japan is Children’s Day! And here’s our guide on how to celebrate it like a local.

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Kodomo no Hi: back to the origins

May 5 was originally known as Tango no sekku (端午の節句), the Japanese equivalent of the Double Fifth which is a holiday celebrated in many Chinese households around the world. In 1948, the government changed the official name to Children’s Day.

However, even though May 5 is officially known as Children’s Day, most Japanese still consider and celebrate the “double fifth” as Boy’s Day. This seems only fair as Girl’s Day is celebrated on the “double third” (Hinamatsuri)—though Girl’s Day is not an official public holiday.

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How do we celebrate Kodomo no Hi?

Households that have a boy will hoist fierce and colorful carp flags outside their homes, and you can witness the same in various public places across the country. Carps are the symbol of the holiday.

According to an ancient Chinese legend, a mixed school of fish tried to fight their way up a waterfall called “Ryumon” (龍門), or dragon gate. While …continue reading