Children’s day as it’s now known is part of the Golden week celebrations in Japan. Formally known as Boys Day due to Girls day being in March. However Girls day is not a public holiday so Boys day now refers to all children, and this day is now set aside to celebrate children’s health and happiness. That said the symbolism still remains very male for this day. The Kabuto warrior helmet and samurai armour being a symbol of strength maybe displayed today. This is the third of the five seasonal festivals Go-Sekku, this one being Tango no Sekku it is also known as Ayame no hi or iris festival. You may see houses decorated with iris flowers which are blooming now. The name for iris in Japan is Shobu ( meaning battle), the leaf is shaped like a sword and were considered auspicious by samurai warriors. Much like the Yuzu baths on winter solstice it is custom to take a bath with iris at this time.
You will see koi streamer like wind socks flying all over Japan over Golden week known as koinobori , the koi again symbolises strength and as they blow in the wind look like they are swimming. Normally households will have colours to symbolise the family black for the father, red or pink for the mother then the children are symbolised with blue green or orange.
Like for Hinamatsuri (girls day) there are foods that are traditional at this time to celebrate children’s health and happiness. I have a few previous posts about this which maybe you would like to read also.
A traditional wagashi (Japanese sweet) is Kashiwa Mochi wrapped in an oak leaf (not edible) this Mochi symbolises a child’s growth to be strong like the oak tree. If you would like to make these I have a recipe for Kashiwa Mochi plus more information about them.
Other traditional foods eaten today would be Nishime simmered vegetables often also eaten at new year but adding seasonal bamboo to symbolise growth. Sekihan azuki bean rice which is often eaten at times of celebration and Chirashi sushi (scattered sushi).
However as this is a time for children what do children like to eat in Japan ? According to a survey with parents the top ten foods that children like to eat now are:
1: curry rice as the favourite 2: sushi 3:chicken karaage 4: hamburger steak 5: ramen 6: yaki niku 7: potato fries 8: Omurice 9:pizza 10:sashimi. When asking the parents what they enjoyed as a child things were pretty similar but in a different order but curry rice remained triumphant. A few replacements were korokke instead of yaki niku and omurice was at the number 2 slot with sukiyaki being at number 8 . There was no pizza or potato fries.
How about making some meals with Japanese children’s favourite foods for children’s day and celebrate with these with your family ?
Vegan hamburger steak
If you want to make curry rice you can just follow the curry recipe for my curry ramen and have it with rice for that traditional Japanese parent and child favourite meal.
Happy Golden Week !