Friday, May 1, 2009

Children's day Part 2 - Kabuto and Kashiwa-mochi

Koinobori is not the only fascinating aspect of Kodomo no hi (Children's Day) in Japan. This time, I will show you some other ways people enjoy the holiday.

As I have mentioned earlier, Children's Day is a day when boys are the star. In addition to Koinobori, Japanese people prepare a Kabuto arrangement (Armor) in their houses. Kabuto can be easily described as an ornate helmet worn by Japanese warriors centuries ago, were an essential item during war. In other words, it was an important item to protect their lives. Thus, today on Children's day, people like to place a Kabuto in their house so that the boys in the house will be protected from accidents and disasters. It also is placed so that the boys will become a great man when they are a part of society. This custom has been practiced in Japan since the Edo period (1603-1867). Although they are very expensive today, people like to buy the Kabutos (miniatures) of famous warriors because they each differ in design. For those who do not care and just want them for decoration, regular Kabutos are available as well. Kabutos are also popular because you can make the helmet in origami (folded paper). If they are made with large sheets of paper, children can actually wear them on their head and can enjoy the holiday to the greatest extent!

Several different foods are enjoyed on this day as well. The first is fish. In Japan, there are numerous fish that are named differently as they grow. For example, mullets (most often called bora), change their name five times depending on the stage of life it is at (Oboko-inakko-subashiri-ina-bora-todo). Japanese amberjacks (most often called buri) are another example as well. Japanese people believe that eating these fish is good for advancement in life. Also, Kashiwa-mochi is enjoyed among the Japanese as well. Kashiwa-mochi is a popular Japanese confectionary made by wrapping mochi (rice cake) in a kashiwa leaf. This is popular on Children's Day is because kashiwa leaf has an important meaning. That is that kashiwa leaves do not fall until a new sprout appears. Thus, this symbolizes the continuation of the family. On Children's Day, Japanese people enjoy eating kashiwa-mochi so that their family tree will continue on to further generations.

As you can see, there are many interesting customs for Children's Day in Japan that has very unique origins. Knowing them will sure let you enjoy the holiday even more. So, now that you have learned the interesting things you can see and eat on Children's Day, all you can do now is get prepared and wait for the day to come!

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