Well, not really . . . but close enough.
In 1948, the Japanese government designated the fifth day of the fifth month as an annual national holiday: "Day of the Child", Kodomo no hi (こどもの日). This day is set aside to celebrate children and wish for their happiness. The fifth of May was originally called Tango no Sekku (端午の節句) and was only intended for boys; girls had their own day, Hina Matsuri (雛祭り), "Festival of Dolls", on the third of March. Both boys and girls, however, are celebrated on Kodomo no hi.
In honour of the day, families fly carp-shaped banners or windsocks, known as koinobori (鯉幟), one for each child. When the wind blows, the banners look like swimming fish. Families who live in apartments may use miniature versions that can be used indoors. The carp signifies strength and success, for they are a hardy and adaptable fish.
Traditionally, on Boy's Day, a tiered stand was set in an alcove, or tokonoma (床の間), in the main room of the house. On it were displayed figures of famous warriors, along with models of swords and armour, to remind boys of the brave exploits of the samurai of old. Girls have their own version of this on the third of March, when the stand is filled with dolls representing the imperial court, all clad in elaborate costumes; Kashiwa mochi, a soft rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf and sometimes filled with sweet red bean paste; and chimaki, a glutinous rice dish wrapped in a bamboo leaf.
The Libraries has several books on Japanese festivals in its collections, some of them in English, including: Japanese festivals, by Helen Bauer & Sherwin Carlquist (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1965); Japanese festivals : annual rites and observances, by Tokutaro Sakurai (Tokyo, Japan: International Society for Educational Information Press, 1970); Dolls on display : Japan in miniature, being an illustrated commentary on the Girls' Festival and the Boys' Festival, by G. Caiger (Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, ); and Matsuri: world of Japanese festivals, by Gorazd Vilhar, Charlotte Anderson (Tokyo, Japan : Shufunotomo, c1994).
Images, from top:
Henry and Nancy Rosin Collection of Early Photography of Japan. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Partial purchase and gift of Henry and Nancy Rosin, 1999-2001.
DOE Asia: Japan: General: NM 90351 04670502, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
DOE Asia: Japan: General: NM 90351 04670301, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution.