Japan – Meiji (1868 – 1912)
Height: 103cm Width: 6 leaves of 47.5 cm each for a total of 285cm
The kodomo no hi is the feast of children, especially the boys. It takes place on the 5th day of the 5th month. This Chinese event was introduced in the imperial court during the Nara period (8th Century) and it marks the beginning of the summer. It was popularized as a feast of boys between the Kamakura and Edo periods. The samurai families gave great importance to the feast and took advantage of this opportunity to offer armors to the children.
Nowadays this holiday is still very popular. Families suspend iris leaves and sagebrush at the entrance of houses to ward off bad luck. All children are taking iris baths and eat traditional pastries. Even though children do not receive armors anymore, families with boys exhibit a gogatsu ningyo (May doll).
This feast is also related to the koi carp, which has become its main symbol through the nobori koi (literally the carp banner), shaped carp windsocks symbolize strength and perseverance.
These symbolic rituals are used to wish happiness and health to children; they represent purification, growth, strength and courage.