May 5th is a national holiday called “Children’s Day (Kodomo-no-hi)” in Japan. The day was just a holiday for me for a long time since I grown up and even after marriage because we are DINKS, but it has become an opportunity of family gathering since my nephews were born in these 5 years. Of course, we gathered in my parents house to celebrate the day for kids the day before yesterday.
The reason why we display “Kabuto” & “Koinobori” for the event
“Children’s Day” is also called “Tango-no-sekku (Boy’s Festival)” for celebrating boy’s growth. The custom originally came from China and Samurai families with boys begun celebrating the day in Edo era by displaying miniature Samurai armor and helmets (“Kabuto”) representing ancient famous warriors and heroes with parents’ wishes that their sons grow as strong as such warriors. Additionally, we also hoist carp-shaped streamers (“Koinobori”) that symbolize strength and success in life. The day became a national holiday in 1948 officially. In fact, we have celebrated the day not only for boys but also for children nowadays.
Kids actually love cheap snacks than Japanese traditional sweets
Speaking of ” Tango-no-sekku”, “Kashiwa-mochi” is typical Japanese sweets. It is a sticky rice cake inside sweet mashed beans, but it is different from “Ohagi” and “Sakura-mochi” which I wrote in the blog before. Kashiwa-mochi is much smoother on the surface compared with Ohagi & Sakura-mochi with remaining grain of rice, and it is covered by oak leaf. (Generally speaking, Japanese sweets are based on sticky rice and sweet beans with different cooking methods.) The leaf never fall down until new one come out, so that it is considered prosperity of descendants. Therefore, Kashiwa-mochi is eaten as a lucky food on the day (We peel off the leaf and eat ONLY rice cake) .
Although I love Japanese sweets made from rice cake, it doesn’t seem popular among little kids. I bought Kashiwa-mochi for all family members including little nephews at the specialty shop, but my oldest nephew who is 4 years old rejected to eat it and told me that “I don’t like Kashiwa-mochi, so I will give it to you!”. He prefers to eat “Dagashi (Cheap sweets) ” like “Umaibo” which are sold for 10 yen per item at a neighbor’s papa-mama shop… Anyway, I am glad to notice that all nephews growing up drastically every time we meet!