Foods, Sightseeing, and Experience in Tsukuba, JAPAN
Japanese parents celebrate the growth of male children on 5 May that is called as “Tango no sekku” in Japanese. My wife set up Kabuto (Warrior’s headpiece), Katana (Sword), and Yumi (Bow) to get ready for the celebration for our sons. Absolutely, they are imitations. The Kabuto in the following picture is wearable for children but it is too small for adult, unfortunately. My son seemed to feel uncomfortable to wear the Kabuto because its inside was hard.
Those items were essential for warriors (Samurai) to protect their life in old days so people expected that they also protect child’s life from accidents and diseases. People did not know about hygiene and did not have medicines to treat their diseases. Especially, young children was easy to lose their lives. Therefore, parents really celebrated if their children grew up.
I saw great goods in Tokyo International airport (Haneda airport) last year and I took a picture of it. Foreign visitors also enjoyed it in the airport as same as me. Many business men like me live in rented apartments those may be too small to accommodate the all goods for Tango no sekku although their sons would be happy with them. Therefore, they bought smaller and selected goods.
Japanese parents also display Koinobori that is a carp streamer for Tango no sekku because they hope promotion of their children. People believe that carp streamer is a symbol of promotion because of Chinese legend where carp was able to climb the hard waterfall and finally turned into a dragon therefore parents hope that their sons also promote well and get good results like the carp. I selected appropriate size of carp streamer for our house. Large carp streamers are exhibited in popular places such as shopping malls like you can see in the following picture. My son asked me why the carp climbed the waterfall. I was not able to answer it because I did not know the reason. My son sometimes gave me too good questions to answer.
Tango no sekku is also called as “Shobu no sekku” where Shobu is a sweet flag. Peope believe that Shobu is a medical herb that can expel the bad air and demons. When I was a child, I had a bath scented with shobu leaves (Shobuyu), that parents prepared. The weather and the temperature are changeable between the spring and the summer as a result we tend to break down our health therefore we use Shobu to keep our health.
Celebration is often associated with special foods. Japanese had Chimaki and Kashiwamochi for Tango no sekku. Chimaki is a glutinous rice that is wrapped with leaves of cogon grass and steamed. It was brought from China. Kashiwamochi is a rice cake wrapped with an Japanese emperor oak leaf. Kashiwa does not leave old leaves until it grows new leaves as a result it has leaves all the time, indicating property of thrives. People tend to have Chimaki in Kansai region (Osaka and other prefectures surround Osaka) and have Kashiwa mochi in Kanto region (Tokyo and other prefectures surround Tokyo).
Through this research of Tango no sekku, I found its background and the culture. Tango no sekku has some goods and foods those have respective stories. Although some stories are associated with male children but others are not. And some stories are brought from China and others are originated in Japan. Japanese celebration, Tango no sekku, would be made by combining celebrations related to the children and other celebrations, and by combining Japanese culture and Chinese culture because they are held on the same day, 5 May. On the other hand, Japanese parents celebrate growth of their female children on 3 March that is called as “Momo no sekku”. How do people celebrate growth and promotion of children in your country?