Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Day Late
Yesterday was Boy's Day in Japan. Cinco de Mayo elsewhere, which, as far as I can tell, is Spanish for "get drunk at your nearby Mexican-themed restaurant." Classy. Anyway... Boy's Day is a celebration for the family which has male offspring. Koinobori, carp-shaped pennants, are flown with one fish for each male child. Also, the number and size of the pennants should match the number and ages of the boys. Apart from the word "rooves" at the link above, the linked article is a good brief intro and it has a picture. Do go see it.
I still have at least one koinobori ("koi" of course being the ornamental carp with which we are all so familiar and "nobori" being pennant) harking back to my yute in Japan. It's pretty good sized so it may have been Lycurgus's. But it's in my hands so I claim it. However, not being blessed with male issue, I really don't have the right to fly it. Maybe vintage Japanalia has a value on eBay.
What I would never consider parting with is my miniature Samurai Helmet. I'm not sure what the proper Japanese name for it is but it's also part of the Boy's Day tradition. Mine lives in its own lacquer box and has a stand on which it is supposed to be displayed. Here is an example (scroll down to the last entry on the page) which is decidedly more elaborate than mine. I will take a picture of it soon and post it as a follow-up.
If you have a male child, please don't let the day late deter you from celebrating . The koi is chosen as the symbol of the male child because it is a strong fish that will fight its way upstream against any odds. May your boys all live up to the standard set by the humble carp.

Girl's also have their day in Japan (March 3) which is marked by the very elaborate display of traditional dolls (ningyo). Here is a good quick look at the Hina-ningyo. If you've never seen Japanese display dolls, you have missed something. They are, or can be, amazingly detailed and dressed in incredibly complex kimono. has some more in-depth information and some pictures if you're interested.

UPDATE: Since Lycurgus has a cat named Milo, the day has come to be known as "Cinco de Milo" between us. Rowr!

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