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What’s Up with These Japanese Fish Flags? Koinobori and Children’s Day

In Japan, the holiday was originally known as Tango no Sekku (Boy’s Day). It formed a pair with Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day), which is celebrated on the double third.




Once spring hits, they’re nearly everywhere. Visitors to Japan will find long strands of fish flags hanging from balconies, strung up in public spaces, and even hoisted up in front of businesses. So, ah, what’s up with all of these fish flags?

Well, what’s up is Children’s Day, Kodomo no Hi, a public holiday celebrated each year on the 5th of May. And the Japanese fish flags? They’re called Koinobori. Intended to resemble carp, they’re a hallmark of the holiday.

The Origins of Children’s Day

Celebrating the double fifth—the fifth day of the fifth month—traces its origins to ancient China. However, Japan has been throwing its own double-fifth celebrations for hundreds and hundreds of years. In Japan, the holiday was originally known as Tango no Sekku (Boy’s Day). It formed a pair with Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day), which is celebrated on the double third.

However, only the double fifth is an official public holiday. Over time, Tango no Sekku expanded to incorporate good wishes for both boys and girls, and the holiday’s name officially changed to Kodomo no hi (Children’s Day) in 1948. That said, many in Japan still casually refer to the holiday as Boy’s Day.

You can read the rest of the article at this link. This article was first published by Team JJ on December 9, 2019. Check here for deeper and unique insights into visiting Japan, including wellness, travel, cuisine and more. Follow on Instagram @japanjourneys.jp, and on Facebook at this link!