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Celebrating Kodomo no Hi in Okinawa, Japan

Our little family is LOVING Okinawa, Japan. We love living the island lifestyle, and we also really love how kid-friendly and kid-focused the Japanese are. There are nursing rooms everywhere, kids are welcomed at almost all restaurants, and if they aren’t, there is a nice sign stating the “adult only” hours. Families mainly live multi-generational, and it is common to see grandparents with little kids throughout the day.

Families are celebrated here!

One of Japan’s largest holidays is called Children’s Day. It has become such a special day to us while we’ve been stationed in Okinawa that I wanted to share with you what it means! 

What is Children’s Day?

 こどもの日 Kodomo no Hi, or Children’s Day, is a day when the Japanese people celebrate and honor the idea of respecting children’s different personalities while wishing them happiness throughout their life.
 
Children’s Day is celebrated on May 5th and marks the end of Golden Week, which starts at the end of April. The week involves a few holidays, including Showa Day and Greenery Day.
 
In 1948 The government deemed Children’s Holiday a national holiday, but before that, the holiday was known as Boys’ Day, where only the boys of the family were celebrated along with the fathers. The government decided to change it to Children’s Day to celebrate all children and recognize the mothers in the home as well. 

On this day and leading up to the holiday, families fly carp shaped Koinobori, 鯉のぼりmeaning windsocks in Japanese. The meaning of the Koinobori comes from an old Chinese legend about a carp who swims upstream against a strong current and eventually overcomes that current to become a dragon.

The Japanese people consider the carp the most spirited fish, being full of energy and strength. Typically a koinobori set will include an arrow-spiked wheel with a ball shaped spinning wind dial. Next is a multi-colored windsock, representing the dragon (飛龍吹流し hiryū fukinagashi) followed by a large carp for the father, smaller red or pink windsock for the mother and finally one for each child in the family. Mochi cakes wrapped in oak leaves are often eaten on the holiday. 

Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog

Children’s Day is celebrated differently all over Japan, but in Okinawa on May 5th there are many festivals, including large dragon boat races that are always a fun sight to see. It is also common for local school kids to make their own version of the koinobori and last year we found a local park with hundreds on display.

Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog

 What an amazing concept, right? We wanted to do our own little celebration, and since the koinobori flags are flown all over Japan during Golden Week, we headed to the Hija River in Yomitan to see the impressive display of carp flying over the river. This river dumps in the ocean about a half mile up, so it made for a scenic and magical experience. We spent the day exploring the area by going on a family run/bike ride and enjoying the weather. We also purchased some of our own koinobori that will hopefully last us many years. We plan on flying them proudly so that we can share this wonderful holiday wherever the military takes us! 
 
Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog
Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog
 
  
No matter where you live, we could all take a lesson from the Japanese people and spend at least one day a year celebrating our children and their differences and wishing them well as they navigate through this life. 
 
Happy Children’s Day!  
 
Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog Children's Day @Military Mom's Blog

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