Friday, March 15, 2013

May 5 - 6, 1954 Boys' Day

Diary Entry:  May 5, 1954

"B took camera to Osaka but clouded up so no pictures. Boys' Day & national holiday--no banks open.  

Painting class in morning.  Cleaned house in afternoon.  Prayer meeting here.  Van & Winnie stayed afterwards & we looked at slides."

Boys'Day as told by Bonnie

"Kenji-chan ran out of the house with Taro-chan bouncing up and down on his back.  Both boys looked up and Taro-chan began to clap his hands. The carp were flying.

It was Boys' Festival time in Japan and Kenji-chan could see the big cloth fish flying over many other houses.  All the families with boys were flying a carp for each son as they always did on Boys' Day.

In the Nishimura garden there was a tall bamboo pole like a flag pole.  On the end of the pole was a windmill that turned around and around.  Below this were several brightly colored ribbons.  Two big cloth fish were flying from the pole.  One was black and several feet long.  The other one was shorter and bright red.  The big fish was for Kenji-chan and the red one was for Taro-chan.  When the wind blew through the fish they seemed to swim out in the air.

The Japanese call these fish carp.  The real Japanese carp is a large goldfish which is strong and brave.  When the people fly the cloth carp they are making a wish that their sons will grow up to be strong and brave like the real carp.

Every morning for the next week there were more and more carp flying over the village.  Kenji-chan had fun watching for his friends' carp to be put up.  By the time Boys' Day finally came on May the fifth there were dozens of carp flying.

That morning Kenji-chan and Taro-chan had hot baths with iris leaves floating in the water to make it smell good.  The boys were given new toy swords and these were wrapped in iris leaves.  Sometimes Boys' Day is called the Iris Festival.

Kenji-chan and his friends played all morning with their new swords.  The played one game to see who could make the loudest noise by hitting his sword on the ground.  Some of the boys had dolls to show but no one could play with them.  The dolls represented old time Japanese soldiers and were shown only on Boys' Day.

The Nishimura family was very proud of its two boys and by supper time the house was full of company.  Aunts, uncles, and grandparents had come to visit. Everyone stayed for supper to enjoy the special foods and rice wine flavored with iris root.

Later Kenji-chan looked out at the flying carp and he wished they could be flown every day.  The would all be taken down in a few days and the sky would look empty for awhile.  Then he remembered that Taro-chan would be bigger on the next Boys' Day.  He could play the sword game too.  Next Boys' Day would be more fun." 

Diary Entry:  May 6, 1954

"Went into Osaka early with Winnie Harbin.  Rain.  Shopped in Hankyu & over on to Hammachi--whole toy area.  Found Bob a carp.  Home mid-afternoon.  Teruko-san still sick.

Farmers in the fields with rain protectors.  Protect head only." 


  1. I don't think this was too long of a post at all. I enjoyed knowing about the Carp being flown. Now that it is called Children's day, do they fly fish for the girls also?

  2. Thanks, Margaret. The fish are flown for all children now, not only for little boys. I think that the fabric fish are really beautiful now.

  3. I agree with Margaret, not long at all and as always, so enjoyable! I love the flying fish and the significance it held for the boys.

    1. Thank you, Pam! And I've forgotten how big the font is here:-) I can actually read it without a magnifying glass:-) Glad you can too!


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