As readers know, we celebrate Girls’ Day every year. This is a Japanese holiday on March 3rd celebrating young ladies and wishing them happiness and prosperity. However, there is another holiday for boys called Children’s Day, or kodomo no hi (子供の日) on May 5th. This is another one of the 5 seasonal holidays in Japanese culture. Originally, it was known as the Day of the Iris, and since the word for Iris (shōbu 菖蒲) was a homophone martial prowess (尚武), it became a festival for boys.
In modern times, the holiday has grown to become a celebration for all children, hence the modern name. However, special traditions just for boys are still observed on this day.
Whereas Girls’ Day has a doll display, Children’s Day has a either a full suit of samurai-armor (yoroi 鎧) or just the helmet alone (kabuto 兜). My wife’s parents knew that we would have to carry this back to America by ourselves, so it was too risky to bring a whole set. So, instead they bought a nice kabuto display. It looks great, but is smaller and easier to carry.
My daughter and I set it up last week, and it turned out very nice:
Also, the snacks are slightly different too. On Girls’ Day, it’s common to eat sakuramochi which is pounded-rice with sweet filling inside. However, on Children’s Day, people often eat kashiwa-mochi, that is mochi wrapped in the leaves of a Sweet Oak. Unlike sakuramochi though, do not eat the leaves. They are too thick and do not taste very good. They look nice though.
This is Little Guy’s first Children’s Day, so we’re excited to celebrate with him. Last year he was only a few months old, and we hadn’t been to Japan yet, so we had no suit of armor to set up. So this feels more like a true celebration this year. 🙂
I’ll post more on Children’s Day of course. Stay tuned!