Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) is coming up, so I figured I better post about it, ‘specially since I allow Hina Matsuri to blow right past me. Actually, the only reason I remembered the former is that my friend Shiho sent me some koinobori for my birthday, which I put in a pot of pansies outside my apartment even though I’m not a child nor do I have children and I’m not actually sure if it’s legal.
Oh, these are koinobori, by the way: windsocks printed or painted to look like carp. In Japan, you start seeing them on people’s balconies and porches around the time the sakura bloom.
Koinobori are used to honor a family’s sons and ensure that they will grow up healthy and strong. Because carp are healthy and strong? I guess? I mean, Magicarp isn’t, that fish’s game is mad weak, but maybe he’s an exception. Anywho, carp kites for boys. They flap around for a month or more before May 5th hits, bringing with it the official observation of Children’s Day.
Children’s Day has been celebrated for ages, but it only became an official holiday in 1948. Actually, back then it was known as Boy’s Day, because screw girls, seriously. Fortunately, someone made the call for a more inclusive holiday, and girls were eventually included in the festivities.
And what do those festivities consist of? Well, the kites, of course, and sweets and games and sometimes little festivals. But primarily, it’s a day (or month) for businesses to offer deep discounts on children’s products in hopes of luring in the kind of parents who like to buy their children’s love. A cynical assessment, perhaps, but it’s not like commercial holidays are peculiar to Japan (Christmas, anybody?)
CHILDREN’S DAY, WEEEEEEEE
Let me make this perfectly clear: I love children. I work with children. Children are fun and fresh and often hilarious. That said, children are little ego-maniacs. With the amount of catering the world already does to their “fragile” self-images and sticky, candy-coated maws, they already have delusions of grandeur on the scale of Adolf Hitler’s. They don’t need a special day. Every day is Children’s Day, for crying out loud!
My fiance went to a Toys R’ Us in Japan around Children’s Day, and it was a total zoo. Kids screaming at their parents, toys getting flung everywhere, Tickle-Me-Elmo-level hysteria. (I just realized most of you probably weren’t born when the Tickle-Me-Elmo noise was going down. Crap, I’m old!) Anywho, the fiance watched in horror as a seven-year-old Japanese boy kicked his mom in the legs because she wouldn’t buy him video games or gummy hamburgers or whatever the hell kids like. For those of you who thought I was exaggerating when I compared children to Hitler: does that not sound like exactly the kind of thing Hitler would do to his mom?
MEIN GUMMY HAMBURGERS!
The other reason I have a beef with Children’s Day is that it’s still geared toward boys more so than girls. Girls get Hina Matsuri, it’s true, but what is Hina Matsuri? Some ludicrously expensive dolls that will make you die alone and unloved if you don’t put them away properly. Meanwhile, boys get health-and-prosperity carp. Tell me how that’s fair.
So! Children’s Day! May 5th! Get your butts in gear, or risk getting kicked in the legs. The choice is yours.