Friday, October 16, 2015

Carpe Diem #839 Kodomo No Hi (Children's Day, former Boys Day)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First I love to thank you all for voting for our "peace of mind" kukai submissions. I will gather the points and I hope to announce our winner next week.

Kodomo No Hi (Children's Day, former Boys Day) or Tango (Boys' Day or Boys' Festival). This  festival is always on the 5th day of the 5th moon in the lunar calendar which was used in classical Japan. When Japan started to use the Western calendar this day would have been on the 5th of June, but Boys' Day however is still at hand on 5th May, so you would say it's for Spring, but that's not true. Boys' Festival was one the first Summer festivals, so it's a kigo for early Summer.
On this day Japanese families celebrate Tango-no-Sekku, the Boys' Festival. With its special customs and observances, it is Japan's way of celebrating the healthy growth and development of her young boys.

If one travels through Japan from the latter half of April to early May, one sees nearly everywhere huge, gay-colored Koi-Nobori, carp-like streamers made of paper or cloth, which fill with wind and seem to swim in the air. Together with long red and white ribbons, the carp are hoisted on a bamboo pole, mounted by a pair of gilded pinwheels, high above the rooftops. A carp is flown for each son in the family, a very large one for the eldest, the others ranging down in size.
The carp has become the symbol of the Boys' Festival because the Japanese consider it the most spirited of fish, so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals. The carp is an appropriate symbol to encourage manliness and the overcoming of life's difficulties leading to consequent success.


There are several legends around this Boy’s Festival which I love to share one of here:
This legend traces the origin of the Boys' Festival to Tokimune Hojo's victory over them invading Mongols on May 5, 1282. As a result, Samurai families erected the flags and streamers in celebration of the victory. Others believe that the unification of the country by the Ashikaga Shogun in the 14th century had been celebrated in this fashion on every May 5 until the interior decorations came to be emphasized.

displayed helmet
the young boy's father
a samurai

© Chèvrefeuille

In the modern observance of Tango-no-Sekku, a display is arranged in the tokonoma, or alcove, in the guest rooms of Japanese houses. Among the decorations are a miniature helmet, suits of armor, a sword, a bow and arrow, silk banners bearing the family crest and the warrior dolls which represent Kintaro, a Herculean boy who grew up to be a general; Shoki, an ancient Chinese general believed to protect people from devils; and Momotaro, the Japanese David the Giant killer.

boys playing
samurai battles
with Irises

© Chèvrefeuille

Japanese Iris (Shobu)

Shobu, the Japanese iris, the long narrow leaf of which is somewhat like a sword in shape, has always been closely associated with the Boys' Festival. The iris leaf is prominent in the observance of Tango-no-Sekku because the sound of the word Shobu, although written with different characters, implies striving for success.

striving for success
the young boys play like Samurai
Iris swords in hand

© Chèvrefeuille

A lovely Festival I think as Japan has many. I hope you enjoyed the read and I hope that you all are inspired to write haiku. Have fun, be inspired and creative ... share your haiku with us here on Carpe Diem, the place to be if you like writing and sharing haiku.

This episode is a “reprise” episode, we had this Japanese Festival earlier in June 2013. So I have taken the choice to “re-produce” that same episode here another time. Not because of laziness, but because I haven’t time enough to create an all new episode.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 19th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our next episode, another CD Special, later on.


  1. Thanks very much for all the information. I also appreciated the use of samurai in your haiku very much. It gives them a really cultural touch.

  2. Love the iris swords! Surrounded by young boys as a mom and grandmother it rings of truth!

  3. I decided on girl's day. Mine is up at: