01 May Sekku Part 2: Golden Week and Boy’s Day
Last Modified on May 14th, 2021 at 08:34 pm
Category: Japanese Culture, Seasonal, Social & Culture
Sekku Part 2: Golden Week and Boy’s Day
(retrospective report, updated mid-May)
Once cherry blossom season is finished in Tokyo, attention immediately shifts to Golden Week. Golden Week takes place at the end of April to the beginning of May, and is a series of consecutive holidays that provides a much need break from everyone’s busy work schedule. As such, Golden Week has long become one of the most popular times of the year for traveling in Japan (along with New Years in winter and Obon in summer).
In the latter half of Golden Week, you will find the national holiday Children’s Day. Until 1948, Children’s Day was known as Boy’s Day or ‘tango no sekku’. It takes place on May 5th and functions as the counterpart to Hinamatsuri, celebrating the healthy growth of young boys.
Originally, the holiday was just for boys within individual households, but now it extends to boys everywhere. The way of celebrating varies from place to place, but in general, pillars are erected outside the house and “carp streamers” are flown in the wind. In Japan, the carp is considered to be an omen of good luck and there is a legend that it once climbed up a waterfall from the river to become a dragon. Therefore, it is displayed on Boy’s Day as a wish for good growth.
One other common custom for celebrating Boy’s Day is displaying items in your house considering to be brave, such as armor, helmets, swords, and samurai dolls.
While the flower representing Hinamatsuri is the peach blossom, for Boy’s Day it is the Iris. The Iris’s scent is considered to ward off disaster, while its sword-like shape fights off evil spirits.
Kashiwa mochi and chimaki are the standard offerings and foods for everyone to eat during this time. Products are lined up at shops and convenience stores throughout the city, so please enjoy them while they last.
As the wind is invigorating and the skies are blue, it is the perfect time to play with your children while watching the carp streamers. This is the scenery of May in Japan!
For those in Japan reading this after Golden Week: TIME FLIES, huh??? Take care, everyone~ 🙂