Koinobori carp streamers are a common sight this time of year in Japan. Koinobori, literally "koi = carp" and "nobori = banner" are usually unfurled in April and May to celebrate "Boy's Day" on May 5th.
The seasonal festival (sekku) in May was originally an event for driving out evil spirits in China, which came to Japan in the Heian Period (794-1192). Since the Edo Period (1603-1867) this festival was consciously contrasted to the girls' (hina matsuri) festival on March 3 and so May 5 in Japan has become the boys' festival. People celebrate their children's birth and pray for their healthy growth by putting up carp-shaped banners in their gardens and on their roofs and balconies.
Streamers were also flown by samurai in battle and are therefore associated with courage, strength and masculinity.
If you haven't got the outdoor space to fly koinobori you can buy indoor koinobori, which are made of cotton, rather than nylon and fit on to a lightweight wooden and plastic frame. The instructions are easy to follow and the balsa wood and plastic stand fits together in a few minutes - even if you can't read Japanese the diagrams guide you on the way.
These indoor koinobori are available from GoodsFromJapan.com and come in a variety of sizes, designs and colors.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
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