Koinobori: It seems that fish swimming in the sky is in Japan

If you stroll around the countryside, you would probably see a number of huge colorful fishes made of silky fabric hung on a tall pole, being blown in the fresh air of early summer.

Those fishes are called ‘Koinobori’ – streamers in the shape of carp. They will be seen only in the period from April to 5th of May: Children’s Day, the national holiday.

Koinobori is the decoration specific for the Children’s Day, which is to celebrate and wish for children’s good health and healthy growth.

Koinobori is arranged like a set of a family.

From the top of the pole, starting from the biggest carp going smaller downwards, which evokes the image of father, followed by mother and their children.

Nowadays, Japanese living has become much modernized: more people live in towns and cities where there is no such space to allow huge fishes and the pole to be built. Yet Children’s Day cannot be perfected without koinobori even now.

There are mini-sized koinobori which fit perfectly in the small balcony of apartment or house.

Meanwhile, if you go shopping, you would find a bunch of sweets whose package has koinobori illustrations printed on. They are to be seen in the market only during the season to create more festive atmosphere for the event.

Partner of Koinobori

Actually, there is a traditional confection to be paired with koinobori and eaten on the Children’s Day – ‘Kashiwa-Mochi’ is a mochi stuffed with sweet bean paste (anko) and covered with a large leaf of Kashiwa oak tree which releases graceful scent.

With decreasing population of young generation, leaving old people behind in the countryside, the tradition of huge koinobori is hoped to keep its way to the future.

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Tamaki SAITO(西東たまき)

Born in Tokyo and raised in Chiba prefecture. I'm excited to reveal the Japan's life behind the scenes that you can hardly learn from the regular sources. Let me hear how far it worked from your side!