Every 5 May is Children’s Day in Japan. This has been a traditional celebration in Japan for centuries, but it only became an official public holiday in 1948. This is the last of the four holidays that occur during the annual vacation time in Japan known as “Golden Week”.
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Up until 1948, there was Boys’ Day on 5 May and Girls’ Day on 3 March. Each day celebrated, respectively, the relationships of fathers and sons and of mothers and daughters. But the government combined it all as Children’s Day to promote family unity and to suggest the equality of male and female.
The main decoration for Children’s Day is a collection of “koinobori”, which are wind-blown cloth carps. The father carp will be black, the mother carp pink or red, and the carps for the children blue or another colour. The carp family moves in the wind so as to look like it is swimming upstream. This recalls the Japanese legend of a carp who swims upstream, turns into a dragon, and the flies away to Heaven.
Additionally, you may see a samurai warrior riding atop a gigantic carp or a warrior’s helmet on display as a symbol of the day. Almost everyone consumes special rice cakes on Children’s Day. You will find both mochi and chimaki rice cakes, both of which are very sweet and delicious.