A Japanese national holiday
celebrated on May 5th. Called kodomo no hi
or tango no sekku
in Japanese, Children's Day has been celebrated as a holiday throughout most of Japanese History.
Modernly, the holiday embodies an appreciation of children of both genders, but Children's Day is specifically a holiday for young boys, a counterpart to the girl's festival
celebrated on March 3rd.
There are many traditions associated with Children's Day. Families of young boys hang ascending carp flags (koi
nobori) as the carp swimming upstream is a symbol of strength and energy. Typically, one flag is raised for each male child, with a larger flag for the eldest. Also, a display is made in the tokonoma
of miniature kabuto
, weapons, suits of armor, and dolls of famous samurai
The Japanese iris or shobu
has an association with Children's Day because of a phonetic association between the word "shobu" and the idea of success. The leaves of this iris are believed to have health-edifying effects, and so on Children's it is common practice to take a bath in steeped iris-leaves (shobu-yu). Also, a drink made from iris leaves mixed with sake
is served on Children's Day.
Note that the girl's festival falls on the third day of the third month, and that the boy's festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month. In Japan the numbers 7, 5, and 3
are considered lucky, so each has an associated holiday (July 7th is the Star Festival
Children's Day is the last holiday of Golden Week