Child’s Day = Boy’s Day in Japan? 子供の日

May 02, 2022
Child's Day in Japan


Hello everyone! It’s already May this year. May 5th is ‘Kodomo no hi (Child’s Day)’ in Japan and it might be the most famous national holiday in Golden Week. I’d like to share what Japanese parents do on ‘Kodomo no hi’. I hope you can learn about the culture.


The parents who have a son wish him to grow as a strong man and do the following three on the day.

1  鯉(こい)のぼりを家の外に飾る 


   Decorating ‘Koi-nobori (carp streamer/carp-going up)’ outside of the house

‘Koi-nobori’ are father ‘koi(carp)’, mother ‘koi’ and child ‘koi’ made of clothes. You often see ‘koi’ in the pond in Shinto shrine and in a Japanese garden, but wild ‘koi’ swim up in the river around May. It is challenging because the current is strong as Japan has lots of mountains. Therefore, ‘Koi-nobori’ represents the strong father ‘koi’  leads his family to a higher level and a better life.

2  兜(かぶと)と金太郎を家の中に飾る 


Decorating ‘Kabuto (shogun helmet)’ and ‘Kintaro’ inside of the house

‘Kabuto’ shows strength because shogun wore it on his head at a fight. You can make ‘origami kabuto’ with newspaper and wear it on your head. ‘Kintaro’ is a boy with strong muscles and parents wish their son becomes a strong man.

3  柏(かしわ)もちを食べる 


Easting ‘Kashiwa-mochi’

The leaves of ‘kashiwa (oak)’do not fall until new leaves grow and it shows strength with a healthy and long life. Thus, the family eat ‘mochi (rice cake)’ wrapped in a ‘kashiwa’ leave and wish their son grows as a strong man.


You can feel that Japanese parents believe that boys should be strong.


By the way, ‘kodomo’ means both boys and girls in Japanese langauge, but somehow ‘Kodomo no hi’ is basically the day for boys. And ‘Hinamatsuri’ on March 3rd is the day for girls. And ‘Kodomo no hi’ is a national holiday but ‘Hinamatsuri’ is not.


What are you going to do on ‘Kodomo no hi’ this year? And do you have it in your country too? I hope this article is useful for your cross-cultural understanding.

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