May is an eventful month in Japan. The month begins with the festive Golden Week holidays which includes the Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpou Kinenbi) on May 3, Greenery Day (Midori no Hi) on May 4, and lastly, Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) on May 5. Let’s learn more about the unique traditions observed in the spirit of Kodomo no Hi.

Children’s Day in Japan was originally called Tango no Sekku, a celebration for boys. In 1948, the government declared this day to be a national holiday to celebrate the growth and happiness of all children, and it was renamed “Kodomo no Hi.” As part of the event, people display traditional ornaments called kabuto (warrior helmets) and Gogatsu-ningyo (warrior dolls) in their homes. Families with boys raise or fly carp-shaped flags called “koinobori.” A symbol of power since the Edo period, koinobori streamers represent the families’ hope for their children to grow up strong like the carp fish. Children’s Day would not be complete without traditional sweets. People enjoy kashiwa mochi (a rice cake with sweet bean paste) and chimaki (a sweet rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves).

The fifth day of the fifth month is indeed a special day for children in Japan. It is an event that still holds great significance within the country.