Apr 12, 2011

What's a Carp Streamer 鯉幟?

As May nears, some families will start to erect tall poles with huge carp streamers attached to it next to their houses.

I found one near my school recently, as I walked to my bus stop. They are huge, and I can't help wondering the significance behind them. And.. here's findings based on my research coupled with informal interviews with Japanese friends :)


鯉幟 (こいのぼり Koinobori), carp-shaped wind socks, are flown to celebrate Children's Day in Japan. Children's Day falls on 5th May. Though known as Children's Day, it originates from Boys' Day, though, as it is preliminary a day to wish for a son's healthy growth. Pretty much, the male version of Hina Matsuri.

What do the carp represents?

The streamers will be arranged in size, from the largest to the smallest. The first one is usually black, which represents the father; the second one is usually red, representing the father, and the following smaller ones represent the sons in the family, according to their age. But now, some families to include daughters, too. So I am not quite sure, for the picture I have taken, does it mean it is a family of 3 sons or x sons and (3-x) daughters? :P


Usually only families with sons will celebrate this day. And probably similar to Hina Matsuri, only families with young sons will carry out the traditions.

And.. I will end off this post with a こいのぼり song traditionally sang by the children and their families.