It is sakura (cherry blossom) season, and that means a number of holidays are upon us here in Japan. 

sakura or cherry blossom tree branch
Sakura in April

Japan has plenty of holidays that are only celebrated here. That means when things are closed or we see a lot of nationals out in the middle of the week, we’ve probably missed a holiday.

Now that we have one year under our belt, we are more knowledgeable (but still lost most of the time), and that is why we can’t wait to celebrate Children’s Day. 

Golden Week and Children’s Day

May 5th is Kodomo no Hi or Children’s Day, and it is the culmination of Golden Week. Golden Week is actually four holidays celebrated within one week from April 29-May 5!

Kodomo no Hi occurs at the end of Golden Week and is a day to celebrate children and what makes them special. Similar to Girl’s Day celebrated in March, it is a day to wish health and happiness on your children. Children’s Day was originally Boys’ Day but was switched to include all children since Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day) is not a national holiday. 

How Do You Celebrate?

carp streamers on pole to celebrate children's day in japan

Koinobori or carp streamers are flown to celebrate Children’s Day. The different colors of the carp represent different family members: black is the father, red or pink is the mother, and each carp after that are the children. The thought behind this is that this particular fish swims upstream and is a little feisty, like children. Try a koinobori kite as a craft with your little ones to celebrate Children’s Day. 

People also celebrate by decorating their homes with samurai helmets that are ornate in detail.

Image of Japanese Boys Day Samurai Helmet Decoration
Japanese Boys Day Samurai Helmet Decoration Courtesy of Nobuo Tabata

Never seen a samurai helmet you say? They were the inspiration behind Darth Vader’s helmet. You’re welcome.

But seriously, they are amazing helmets. We have miniatures for our boys to celebrate their time in Japan but people have huge ones on display that cost thousands of dollars. 

Last but not least, special food is eaten during Chldren’s Day. Kashiwa mochi is a rice ball stuffed with the infamous red bean paste. Feel free to read how we got that confused with strawberries and cream here. There is also a clear clam soup which is a simple, clear broth made with clams. It’s delicious! There are other foods favored by children like karaage (fried chicken) and ebi (fried shrimp).  Feel free to try the recipes attached for these dishes. Most of them are simpler versions of Japanese recipes. 

Third Culture Kids

I have children who have never seen Fourth of July fireworks or don’t remember them but know about carp streamers. Our home here in Japan is filled with holidays and celebrations from around the world. There is Epiphany, Mardi Gras, Jamaican Independence Day, and now Children’s Day. I love celebrating different cultures that have impacted our lives and teaching my children how to celebrate them while honoring their history. I don’t want to take home every idea from Japan, but a special day to celebrate my children’s individuality sounds like a winner to me. 

If you’re not busy with Cinco de Mayo, might I suggest celebrating Children’s Day this year?