Traditional decorations on Children's Day



2021.05.06 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

In Japan, the 5th of May is a public holiday commemorating Children's Day. The culture of displaying traditional decorations on this commemorative date has been preserved to this day. While this event is often called "Children's Day" nowadays, it originates from the "Tango no Sekku" celebration in ancient Japan. Similar to the Hinamatsuri held in March mainly for girls, Tango no Sekku was a celebratory day for boys.

Equipment like the armor and helmet decorated inside the house on this day may remind us how they protected warriors on the battlefields long ago, so they symbolize the hope for our children to grow up strong, free from misfortunes and diseases. On top of that, the Koinobori (carp streamer) displayed outside the house symbolizes the hope for children to succeed in life. During the Edo period, the warrior class had a tradition of displaying their banner on Tango no Sekku to symbolize their hope that their boys will grow up favorably. Merchants who had a lower social standing at that time pitted against them by using the Chinese legend of "the carp that swam upstream and transformed into a dragon" which symbolizes social success as an inspiration to draw a dragon on their banner, which is said to be the origins of the modern "Koinobori".

The doll store "Kyugetsu" in Asakusa has a long history stretching all the way back to the Edo period. All decorations are made by skillful and experienced doll artisans and the detail and elegance of the work are breathtaking. Apart from decorations for Tango, they also sell decorations for Hinamatsuri as well as Japanese dolls. Please do check out the beauty of their art!

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