Children’s Day was highly anticipated in our home this year. It’s a Japanese holiday that is celebrated on May 5th. Originally it was boy’s day, since girls have their own holiday (Hinamatsuri) on March 3rd. Traditionally, for Children’s Day families with boys fly large carp streamers outside their homes.
Legend says that the carp swims upstream to become a dragon, so they symbolize strength and success for Japanese boys. Since it is our second year in Okinawa, the kids knew to be looking forward to it and have been making Children’s Day crafts at school for a while now.
We decided we should do everything the children like on Children’s Day. So we started the day off with pancakes for breakfast, topped with sliced strawberries and homemade syrup (strawberries are a delicacy for us living in Okinawa, since they can be very expensive!).
We went on a scooter ride/walk after breakfast and walked to the river to see the carp streamers. We’d heard there would be a festival going on and were happy to find some tents set up with food vendors and activities for the kids.
They had been forecasting storms for days now, but it turned out to be another beautiful (though pretty hot!) day!
There was a stage set up with performers dancing, singing, acting and drumming.
We also saw a tent renting fishing poles, and quite a few people were fishing for carp, perch and turtles in the river.
Along the river we saw some beautiful butterflies. This one had “eyes” on it’s wings!
My kids were stoked when they saw among the food being sold was corn on the cob. I don’t know why they love it so much – they’re so funny! The lunch was delicious – squid balls for me, yakitori and fried cheese for the kids, and of corn on the cob.
After lunch the kids discovered a butterfly tent. It was full of enormous white and black striped butterflies that fluttered around listlessly.
Many of them landed on us, and we enjoyed watching their tiny proboscis unfurl and sip up the sweet nectar.
There was also a tent with goldfish fishing and for 50 Yen (about 50 cents) you could try to catch one with a net. The little nets they gave us to use were made of paper. I think it was a game, that you were supposed to catch it really fast – but obviously that wasn’t going to happen! Finally, the ladies running the booth caught a fish with a real net. We are now proud owners of two goldfish. The first pets for our nomadic children.
By this time Violet’s little cheeks were flushed red and we were all feeling the heat. We ordered a red bean shaved ice as a treat to cool us all off before walking home.
After some rest at home we ended our day with pizza and a movie – the first time we’ve ever done that, believe it or not! The kids were so happy to have a day that celebrates them. It may not have been traditional, but we sure enjoyed our version of Children’s Day!