May 5th is Children's Day

Readers of this blog will know that I have a thing for Japan. And today, May 5th, it is a national holiday in Japan, the Children's Day - or the Kodomo no Hi, celebrating children and their parents. It used to be about fathers and sons only, but that has been officially changed to include all children, and even mothers as well! Read much more about that here.

The reason I even know about this, is because I have always loved those fish streamers you see around this time of year in Japan. They are called Koinobori - literally meaning carp (= koi) banner (= nobori) - and the carp fish symbolizes strength and determination (as it swims upstream) something all children can use a bit of!

The Koinobori are flown from tall bamboo poles, in 'families' - a large black on top, representing the father, a slightly smaller red, representing the mother - then a blue one for the eldest child, and so forth in various colors.

I have them in several colors and sizes, and use them as decorations here or there, all year round, by the way! My son's birthday is on May 28th, and we have a large red and white one (= Danish birthday colors) we usually fly on that day. Mine are from here, they have a variety of different types. 

(pics from top: woodblock print by Haruki Kobayashi via www.sakurafineart.com / color photo via ganref.jp / traditional red and blue koinobori found on amazon.com)

I like how the way these carps are depicted seems to have become very traditional, the way the scales and eyes are drawn, for example. If you would like to print and make a black one yourself, you can find it right here. 

Sometimes you see a more free use of the motif, as seen here below...
Top: Clifton Karhu cotton furoshiki (wrapping cloth) from Etsy shop 'kyotocollection' 

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