Best Guide To Children’s Day In Japan+20 Related Vocabulary

flying carp flags in the sky-Children's Day In Japan-Ling

As we step into May, the cherry blossom (sakura) season and other spring festivals in Japan are over. But we have new events coming up, and Children’s Day in Japan is one of them!

In the first week of May, you may see colorful carp-shaped flags waving in the air from the balconies of apartments. When you enter any of these apartments, you will see spooky-looking samurai armor adorning placed in the living room. But what’s the point of all these? They are signs that the Children’s Day in Japan has come!

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about this special day in Japan, so keep reading below!

What Is Children’s Day In Japan?

Children’s Day (こどもの日, kodomo no hi) is a national holiday in Japan, celebrated on May 5th each year. On this day, Japanese families celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of their children.

Brief History Of Children’s Day In Japan

Let’s talk a little bit of history! During the Nara period (710-794) in Japan, May 5th was known as 端午の節句 (Tango no sekku), which is a day for women to purify the house and rest their bodies. This was because May was the rice planting season and also a sacred time of year to welcome the rice god and pray for a fruitful harvest.

However, in the Kamakura period (1185–1333), the samurai class took over the Japanese government, and they declared that day to celebrate “young boys” instead of the rice god. In 1948, the Japanese government changed the official name to Kodomo No Hi, Japanese Children’s Day, and dedicated it to all children. But today, we can still see the traditional customs of its samurai origins, and most Japanese people still consider and celebrate the day as “Boy’s Day.”

For those who think it is unfair, don’t worry because there is also a day to celebrate girls in Japan, which is called 雛祭り(Hinamatsuri), Girl’s Day. It is celebrated on March 3rd, the third day of the third month.

When Is Children’s Day In Japan?

Children’s Day in Japan (Kodomo No Hi) is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month every year, which equals May 5th.

How Do Japanese People Celebrate Children’s Day?

Let’s see how Japanese people celebrate this day:

Koinobori-Children's Day In Japan-Ling

Koinobori – The Carp Flags

Japanese families with sons hang colorful carp flags called Koinobori outside their homes, in gardens, or on balconies. You can also see these in public places across the country.

The black and the biggest carp represents the father of the family and is named 真鯉 (magoi). The red carp represents the mother of the family and is named 緋鯉 (higoi). And the blue carps represent the children (traditionally, the sons).

The background of this tradition is based on an ancient Chinese legend. In the legend, a mixed school of fish tried to swim upstream a waterfall called 龍門 (Ryumon), also known as the Dragon Gate. While all the other fish species gave up and drifted downstream, the carp kept going, and when they reached the Dragon Gate, the carp turned into dragons.

There is also a Japanese proverb coming from this age-old tale: 鯉の滝登り(koi no taki-nobori), which means “Koi’s ascent up a waterfall”.

kabuto with Japanese kid-Children's Day In Japan-Ling

Yoroikabuto – The Armor And The Helmet

Japanese families celebrating Children’s Day decorate their homes with samurai dolls and armor and helmet miniatures, which symbolize their wish to raise strong boys like samurais. The samurai armor 鎧 (yoroi) and the samurai helmet 兜 (kabuto) form the word yoroikabuto, which you can hear a lot on this day.

kashiwa-mochi-Children's Day In Japan-Ling

Children’s Day Foods

There are special Japanese foods that are cooked and served specifically for Children’s Day in Japan. One of them is 粽 (chimaki), which is a rice cake made out of steamed sticky rice wrapped in a bamboo leaf, and the other one is 柏餅 (kashiwa-mochi), which is a sweet Japanese dessert.

Japanese Children’s Song – こいのぼり(Koinobori)

There is also a special Children’s Day song that is usually taught in schools:

How Do You Say “Happy Children’s Day” In Japanese?

“Happy Children’s Day” in Japanese is こどもの日おめでとうございます!(Kodomo no hi omedetou gozaimasu!). This is the most common phrase that locals use to celebrate this day and congratulate each other.

Here are some useful Japanese words and phrases related to Children’s Day. But if you want to connect with locals and share the festive atmosphere, you should learn the Japanese language, and I know a great way to start learning: the Ling app!

Happy Children’s Day!こどもの日おめでとうございます!Kodomo no Hi omedetou gozaimasu!
May 5th is Children’s Day.五月五日はこどもの日です。Gogatsu itsuka wa kodomo no hi desu.
Wishing for the growth of your child.お子様の成長を願っています。O-kosama no seichou o negatteimasu.
To raise carp streamers.こいのぼりを上げるKoinobori o ageru
Let’s spend enjoyable time with the children.子供達と楽しいひと時を過ごしましょう。Kodomotachi to tanoshii hitotoki o sugoshimashou.
It’s enjoyable to spend Children’s Day…こどもの日には家族で一緒に過ごすのが楽しいですね。Kodomo no Hi ni wa kazoku de issho ni sugosu no ga tanoshii desu ne.
Wishing for the healthy growth of…子供達が健やかに成長することを願っています。Kodomotachi ga sukoyaka ni seichou suru koto o negatteimasu.
There are various events on Children’s Day.こどもの日にはいろいろな行事があります。Kodomo no Hi ni wa iroiro na gyouji ga arimasu.
Let’s decorate with carp streamers…家族でこいのぼりを飾りましょう。Kazoku de koinobori o kazari mashou.
Children’s Day is a special day for…こどもの日は子供たちにとって特別な日です。Kodomo no Hi wa kodomotachi ni totte tokubetsu na hi desu.
Boys’ Day端午の節句Tango no Sekku
To grow成長するSeichou suru
Healthily健やかにSukoyaka ni
To decorate飾るKazaru
Special特別なTokubetsu na

Frequently Asked Questions About Children’s Day In Japan

Before we end this blog post, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Children’s Day in Japan:

1. Is Koinobori For Boys Or Girls?

Koinobori, the colorful carp windsocks in Japan, are traditionally linked with boys to celebrate boys’ strength and bravery. But these days, there are also carp representing the daughters of a family as well as the sons. In the end, they’re all about good luck and protection from evil spirits.

2. What Is Girls’ Day Called In Japan?

Girls’ Day is called Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) and is celebrated on March 3rd, the third day of the third month. During Hinamatsuri, families decorate their homes with a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, and their court in traditional Japanese clothes. On this day, families pray for the health and happiness of the girls in their family.

3. Is Children’s Day In Japan Just For Boys?

Today, Children’s Day in Japan is about celebrating the happiness and well-being of all children, both boys and girls. However, it was originally focused on boys and often referred to as Boys’ Day, but it was renamed Children’s Day after World War II to include girls as well.

Ready To Celebrate Children’s Day? Dive Into Japanese Culture And Language!

Children’s Day in Japan (May 5th) is all about cheering on kids and their happiness. It’s a day when Japanese families get together to have some fun and show love for their little ones. From flying colorful carp flags to setting up mini samurai gear, it’s a joy for everyone.

Although it used to be more about boys back then, now it’s a celebration for all kids, both boys and girls. So, whether it’s enjoying special treats or singing catchy tunes, Children’s Day is a great opportunity to make memories as a family.

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