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Children's Day in Japan: Traditions and Celebrations

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How to Spend Children's Day

carp streamers

One of the most iconic Children's Day traditions is hanging up carp streamers, known as koinobori. The origins of koinobori can be traced back to an ancient Chinese legend about the carp's ability to swim upstream and transform into a powerful dragon. In this legend, the carp represents strength, courage, and the ability to overcome adversity.

Kashiwa mochi

Families also adorn their homes with samurai dolls (gogatsu ningyo) and helmets (kabuto).

Together, carp streamers, samurai dolls, and samurai helmets symbolize a family's hope that their sons grow up to embody traditional samurai values.

Traditional Foods for Children's Day


No Children's Day celebration is complete without indulging in some classic Japanese treats. Kashiwa mochi, made with mochi rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves, are a beloved delicacy. Another traditional food is chimaki, fragrant rice dumplings steamed in bamboo leaves.

Both of the oak and bamboo leaves symbolize parents' hope that their sons will be both tough and upright, in body and in behavior.

Recommended Menus for Children's Day


Many restaurants and cafes offer special "kids' lunch" sets for the occasion, featuring colorful, child-friendly dishes. These playful meals often include bite-sized portions of favorites like fried chicken, mini hamburgers, or creative bento box arrangements.


Whether planning a quiet day at home or a festive outing on May 5th, Children’s Day is a wonderful day to celebrate our sons and remind us of what kind of sons and fathers we want to be.

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