Kodomo no Hi

Long ago May 5th was celebrated as Boy’s Day in Japan.  The festivities centered around sons, hoping that they would grow up to be healthy and strong. Today May 5th is the national holiday Kodomo no Hi (Childrens’ Day) wishing a bright future for all.

There are many decorations associated with the Day. Outside, koinobori (koi streamers) are hung from a long bamboo pole to show that there are children in the home.

Inside, Gogatsu ningyo (May dolls) are displayed on a stepped riser in the tokonoma (alcove). The top step has a scaled replica of helmet and armor, kabuto and yoroi,  accompanied by lanterns, a bow stand and a sword stand. On the next step are a taiko (war drum), gunsen (war fan) and a saihai (tasseled stick), accoutrements of a warrior.

The next step has special food: chimaki (sweet rice cakes wrapped in bamboo), kashiwa mochi (bean stuffed sweets wrapped in oak leaves) and shobu sake for ritual purification. Shobu, the word for iris is a homonym for military valor. On the lowest level are a white war horse and a mushu ningyo (warrior doll).

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