Japanese article is here; https://japaneselanguagesalonbymikapanda.com/goldenweek-and-childrensday-766
What is “A golden week”?
Hello, this is MIKA!
It’s already in May, and we’re in “A golden week” now, a long holidays in Japan!
Every year it starts at 29th April; Shouwa-no-hi, the birthday of Shouwa Emperor. And it includes 3rd May; Constitution Memorial Day, 4th May; Greenery Day, and 5th May; Children’s day. Totally we have the holidays around a week!
Then, the Children’s day is one of “Gosekku”, the traditional Japanese events’ day like “Hina-matsuri”, Doll’s festival on 3rd March.
So this time, I’ll tell you about Children’s day!
*About “Gosekku”, please read this article about “Hina-matsuri”.
5th May is “Sekku of iris”
The beginning of May is the season of fresh green and the flower of iris.
Iris is “Shoubu” in Japanese, and also we read “Shoubu” for the word which has the meaning of “Martial spirit”; that’s why we say 5th May as “Sekku of Shoubu”.
“Martial spirit” is to value martial arts. With this reason, “Sekku of Shoubu” has been Children’s day to wish that boys will grow up like a Samurai.
What do we do on Children’s day?
Put “Gogatsu-ningyou”, the special doll of Samurai
Same as the family which has girls put “Hina-ningyou” for “Hina-matsuri”, the family which has boys put “Gogatsu-ningyou”, the special doll of Samurai for Children’s day.
Samurai had the custom to put some weapons and equipments in their home to dry in May of the old calendar from Kamakura era(1185~1333) , when Samurai had been appeared. This custom had been the tradition for “Sekku of Shoubu” to guard children against dangerous. This is the origin of “Gogatsu-ningyou”.
Especially in Edo era(1603~1868), when “Shougun” family had a boy who was expected to be the successor, they put their weapons and equipments in Edo castle. Then samurai family imitated that custom and it helped to extend the influence; after that, people put the doll of Samurai instead of weapons and equipments.
Put “Koi-nobori”, the special flag of carps
【Japanese nursery song：「こいのぼり」】
Second, we put “Koi-nobori”. Before this season, we often see them around the town.
In the ancient China, people believed a carp would be a dragon after swimming up a waterfall. This legend came to Japan and we put “Koi-nobori” as the symbol of an advancement in life for Children’s day.
In addition, there is the word “Touryuu-mon” in Japanese, which has been made by this legend. “Touryuu-mon” means the hurdle we have to break through for our success and advancement in life.
Also in Pokemon, there is the same reason “Koiking” will be “Garados”.
Finally the colorful flag on the top of “Koi-nobori” is “Fuki-nagashi”, and it expresses the waterfall which carps swim up.
Why is it colorful even it expresses the waterfall? Because these colors come from the five elements in “Onmyou-gogyou”, Chinese cosmology.
What is Chinese cosmology?
“Onmyou-gogyou” is the ancient Chinese idea that five elements(Tree, Fire, Soil, Metal, Water) which constitute the nature influence each other to cause natural phenomenon.
We use five colors symbolizing these elements to have an effect against an evil influence.
Sometimes we use purple or orange instead of black, and green instead of blue.
Eat “Kashiwa-mochi”, the special rice cake with a leaf of an oak
Third, we eat “Kashiwa-mochi”. This custom has become established in Edo era, too.
“Kashiwa” means an oak, and it has the feature that its leaf never fall down until the next leaf begins to appear. In the other words, they have “always” leaves. People associated “Family’s prosperity” with their botany, that’s why we take “Kashiwa-mochi” as a lucky sweet on Children’s day; because family cannot continue without a healthy boy who has been grown up.
Before Children’s day, we can buy “Kashiwa-mochi” in suparmarkets or Japanese sweet stores. But never take their leaves because they are too hard to eat!
How was it?
This time, I’ve introduced you about “Golden week” and “Children’s day”.
At this season, children in a kindergarten and nursery school make Samurai’s helmet with origami, and play putting on that.
If you want to go to travel for some days in Golden week when you live in Japan, never forget to apply paid vacations for weekdays between holidays and make a reservation for hotels or something as soon as possible!