Sunday, May 4, 2008


So it is a Japanese Holiday today called "children's day." On this day, and a month or so prior to it, you see the koinobori flags flying. I love them! I looked all over for a flag to purchase but had a bit of difficulty (I wanted an authentic one, not just a bx special). So, hopefully next year I can post a picture of our OWN koinobori with the boys.

What is Koinobori?
Koinobori are carp-shaped streamers. Families with boys fly Koinobori outside from April through early May, in honor of Children’s Day on May 5 which was originally Boys’ Festival. The carp is believed to be a lucky fish symbolizing success in life so that families with boys fly carp-shaped streamers wishing for good health and growth for their boys.

History of Koinobori

In ancient times, when a baby was born, the family set up a tall pole in front of a house because it was believed that gods came down along it from the sky to protect the child. In order to make one’s house stand out toward gods from other houses, various-colored cloths were put on a tip of the pole. This is the origin of five-colored streamer.

During the feudal period warrior families celebrated the birth of boys by decorating armors made of sweet flag (iris) and setting up family-crested flags and streamers outside.

In the "Edo" period rich merchants started flying Koinobori with five-colored streamers wishing for good growth and success for their children and this custom became popular among the common people.

Why carp fish? This is originated in ancient Chinese legend. In "China" carps are believed to become dragons after climbing upstream of the "Yellow River" against rapid current and then they are taken as a symbol of success in a career.

The song “Koinobori” says that Koinobori swim freely above the roof in the sky, however, now in "Japan" it’s not always in that way anymore. If you live in a house with a garden, you can set up a tall pole with Koinobori, otherwise miniature Koinobori are hanged with stick outside apartments and condominiums. According to a handmade Koinobori company, hot seller is a “veranda set” for residents of condominiums.

These days there are some foreign tourists who buy Koinobori as souvenir. Their usages are different from Japanese one such as interior decoration, mark of yacht harbor, tying with ships and yachts and signboard of Japanese restaurant. You may find Koinobori somewhere unexpected places in the world.


Ramona Jensen said...


You really need to find this flag for your house full of boys.

Much Love to you all.

Susan said...

I love that tradition. We should adopt it in honor of all of our boys!

Cathryn said...

I absolutely agree Susan! I am now on the hunt for a personalized Koinobori for my boys. Next year, I will pull the kids out of school and we will make a holiday of "Children's Day!"

MaryAnn said...

A friend gave us a cheap Koinobori when we moved here last year and I was so excited to hang it for Children's Day...until I figured out it's only for families with boys! I'm feeling very left out. :) But I still love seeing all the koinobori.