There are some pretty unique Japanese children’s festivals that I’ve read about. I thought I’d post about them here, but this is where I’ve got it from, mostly.
Two are a bit more public and you might have heard about them already. Hinamatsuri and Kodomo no Hi.
Hinamatsuri is a celebration of young girls and it’s a special occasion the first Hinamatsuri one’s daughter gets to celebrate. Then it’s known as Hatsuzekku (first festival) and the daughter is presented with a hina-doll symbolizing the parents desire for her to grow up healthy and happy. The hina dolls are arranged on a type of staircase, or in magnificent public displays like this one.
こどもの日 or Children’s day is celebrated on May 5 and finishes off Golden Week, when people watch the cherry blossoms and eat and celebrate outdoors. People put up kites in the shape of koi or carp. It’s a day to celebrate your kids and wish for their happiness.
More private in scope is Okuizome (お食い初め) or First Meal, which is celebrated as your kid reaches 3 months of age.
A feast is prepare and while the kid is prompted to give real food a try, parents get to enjoy the spoils and hope for their child to grow up healthy. Use of umeboshi (pickled plum) in the dishes, is used to symbolize growing up to an old, wrinkly, age.
Erabitori or Choose & Take takes place on your child’s first birthday. Parents put a variety of object for the baby to choose from and depending of the choice, it would give an indication of what life has in store for the child.
There are also special cards one can buy, that the child can also choose from for the prediction.
Another first birthday tradition is Isshou Mochi (一升餅) or First Birthday Rice Cake. This huge mochi is put on the back of the child for them to carry.
Again, this is about symbolism, and about the parents hopes for their child to go through life in good health, having food to eat and acquire peace and harmony in their life.
Now that’s a BIG mochi!
I think these are all neat festivals. Not everything is big and flashy, but celebrating one’s children in various ways is lovely I think. Not everything has to be about birthday presents and cake - as nice as those things also are. ^>^