Children's Day "Kodomo No Hi" is a big day for kids in Japan. It’s actually a national holiday and all kids love that. It takes place on the final day of Golden Week on May 5. Historically, the fifth day of the fifth month was a day of celebration for boys. Don’t worry, girls. You actually have a day dedicated to you called "Hina Matsuri", which is celebrated on the third day of the third month as the Doll Festival. In 1948, the Japanese government officially made it a day to celebrate all children. Even if you’re not a kid anymore it’s still a holiday, so you get a day off from work.
Traditionally, homes will bring out a miniature samurai warrior set which has carefully arranged armor, a helmet, a sword and a bow with arrows. This tradition has continued before the day officially became a celebration for all children. It symbolized the hope that young boys will grow up to be strong and brave.
Outside the home “koinobori” are flown from a tall pole. Koinobori means “carp streamer”. These originated in a Chinese legend that a carp that was strong enough to struggle up the Yellow River and leap the Dragon Gate Falls would be transformed into a dragon and fly into heaven. Koinobori represents the virtues of strength and determination that will bring success in life and that parents wish for their children. Red represents the father of the household, and red for the mother, and then smaller streamers in other colors for each of the children in the home.
Kashiwa mochi are served for the celebration. They are soft rice cakes stuffed with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in oak leaves.
The oak leaves represent the continuing health of the family down the generations because it is believed that old oak leaves do not fall until new leaves have grown. Another treat they enjoy is "chimaki" a long sweet sticky rice dumpling which is wrapped in bamboo.