Children’s Day

A close-up of “koi-nobori” carp streamers.

May 5th is Children’s Day in Japan – a day that, contrary to its name, celebrates boys.

While girls get Hina Matsuri, boys get Children’s Day. If you so choose, you can spend a lot of money on an impressive-looking samurai helmet in a display case and have that in your home leading up to May 5th. I don’t personally know anyone who does this, but I see them for sale in a lot of shopping malls here.

One tradition I see everywhere, however, is hanging up “koi nobori” carp streamers. You see them flying all over the place here around this time. The idea, apparently, is boys are like carp. If they are strong enough to swim upstream, one day they will become dragons.

I believe The Japan Times wrote an article about this a while ago, and they mentioned this is the thinking behind the Pokemon Magicarp becoming the dragon Gyarados. As a Pokemon fan, I had always wondered about this. No longer.

Other than hanging up the streamers, I’m actually not sure what you’re supposed to do for Children’s Day. I saw a baby photo of my husband wearing a samurai helmet that was folded out of newspaper for Children’s Day, and something about an adorable baby wearing a warrior helmet made of newspaper just completely melted my heart. I made a samurai helmet of newspaper for my own kids, but they were entirely disinterested in wearing them, even as tiny babies who should’ve lacked the strength to remove it from their heads. Oh well.