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by Bob Kerstetter
Carp Banners Celebrate Children’s Day, Especially for Boys.
With the full bloom of sakura—cherry blossoms—several days off, carp flags fly above the Kitakami River in Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture, Japan.
Although difficult to tell from the photo, these banners extend from 2 to 10 meters in length.
The streamers mark the coming of Children’s Day—more traditionally Boy’s Day—on May 5—to Japan.
Originally, samurai families flew carp streamers on this day to honor a particular fish swimming against a river current then jumping a waterfall to become a dragon and ascend to heaven. They hoped for such bravery and success in all of their sons.
Families also display samurai figures, eat rice confections wrapped in oak leaves and place iris leaves on their houses—doing all of these for the health, happiness and success of their boys.
This year, sakura full bloom and the national celebration of Children’s Day overlap in Kitakami City. If you look closely in the photograph you can see the beginning glow of the blossoms on the trees lining the far side of the river.
Japan also celebrates Girl’s Day each year on March 3.
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