May 5 is Children’s Day, a special time for celebrating boy children that’s part of the Golden Week holidays. On this day families will proudly display a samurai battle helmet called a kabuto as they eat a special meal of rolled sushi, then the boys in the family will take a bath with sword-shaped iris flowers to make them strong in the future. Over the next few weeks, families with boy children will fly huge kites made to look like fish swimming upstream when the wind blows, called Koinobori or Upstream Swimming Carp, essentially a traditionally painted windsock which signifies a boy’s journey through life. Our prefecture is quite famous for displays of these flying fish banners, and if you go for a drive you’ll see dozens of them filling the sky with brilliant colors. As usual, things in Japan have a tendency to be quite old: the custom of flying carp-shaped banners started with samurai families in the Edo Period (1603-1868), while celebrating boy children on May 5 goes all the way back to the 6th century A.D.
Beautiful carp streamers, flying in the sky in our prefecture.