Boy's Day

Dear Hugh,

Boys' Day in Japan is celebrated every May 5th. - in preparation for the boy's entrance into manhood. Boys were presented with miniatures of the trappings of the Samurai: armor, sword, bows and arrows, aikuchi, etc. Sometimes they were also given the 'real thing. These presents were all arranged according to custom on the Takimono - a special alcove in the living room for showing works of art, flower arrangements, scrolls, or Boys Day/Girls Day items.

Paper pennants of the Carp are flown. It is believed that the Carp insures success and prosperity in one's life. Koinobori: The black carp (Magoi) at the top represents the father, the red carp (Higoi) represents the mother, and the last carp represents the son, with an additional carp added for each subsequent son with color and position denoting their relative age. In Japanese culture, the carp (or koi) represents courage and perseverance, as the fish is known for its strength and determination as it swims against the current upstream. The carp kite symbolizes each family's wish for their sons to grow up brave and strong.

Also very prominent on May 5th is the presence of Shoki, the 'Demon Queller' deity, who not only quells demons of all sorts, but who also protects from evil spirits and misfortune those households with male children. For this reason, Shoki's images, statuettes, and statues are exhibited in and around the premises.

There is also a 'Girls' Day' festival which I believe is also held on May 5th. Here, gifts are given which more suitable for girls - dolls, etc.In recent years the May 5th celebration is being called "Childrens' Day". It is also the day for children to express their gratitude for the tender love and care they receive from their parents. It was designated a national holiday by the Japanese government in 1948.

Here FYI are some websites with more information on this very important and well loved Japanese festival, and on Shoki:

Boys' Day:

Shoki:

Toxophilitely yours,
George


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