During Kodomo no Hi there are three customs that I’m familiar with because I gotten a chance to see them or experience them first hand. The first is samurai helmet/armor decorations that you can find adorning some of the Japanese houses and shops. It doesn’t seem to be as common as the dolls that are displayed during Hina Matsuri, but I still think it’s cool. It seems as though some of the traditions from Boy’s Day are still are part of Children’s Day. Where as the Hina Matsuri Dolls are the epitome of beauty, elegance, and grace, the SamuraiHeaddress and sword represent strength, power, and an indomitable spirit. I think it’s very representative of the ideals of ancient Japan, of what a young girl should strive to be, and what a young boy should strive to be.
The second custom is really popular. Sometimes in April through early may, if you look outside you can see carp streamers ( ) fluttering/”swimming” in the wind. Flag poles at some of the schools have them as well, I know mine did. The carp streamers are also representative of good luck. It it an ancient Chinese belief that a carp that swims upstream becomes a mighty dragon. I the carp streamers are influenced by Chinese culture.
The third custom is probably awesome for me, because it involves Japanese sweets (okashi-お菓子). During kodomo no hi people eat a special snack called Kashiwamochi- かしわもち or 柏餅. Kashiwa is the Japanese word for oak. Mochi is the chewy, doughy-textured covering that makes up a rice cake. So are you eating mochi with pieces of oak in it? No, no, no…not at all. The mochi has mildly sweet filling in its center and is wrapped in an oak leaf. A student told me that the oak leaves are said to ward off evil spirits.
I had the opportunity to try three different types of kashiwamochi.
1. Sakuramochi (さくらもちor 桜餅)-Made from cherry blossoms and mochi, hence the pink color. Sakuramochi can also be eaten during hinamatsuri and is wrapped in a mature cherry blossom leaf. But because during this celebration the oak leaf is used, it then becomes kashiwamochi. The type that I have tried had a misoan (みそあん) filling. Misoan is a very lightly sweetened soybean paste. Though it was the least sweet of all three, it was extremely tasty.
2. Kusamochi or yomogimochi (くさもち草餅 or よもぎもち蓬餅)-A type of rice cake made from mochi that’s been mixed with mugwort grass, hence the green color. This particular kashiwamochi had a つぶあん filling. Which is like a chunkier type of anko-あんこ (red bean paste/jam). You can even see some of the bean hulls in the jam. It’s really good, too.
3. Mochi(もち or 餅)-which is your standard rice cake, hence the white color. This one was filled with こしあん red bean jam made from azuki beans (小豆). But this is the smoother form of anko. And yes, you guessed it…it’s delicious!!
Thanks for reading and watching. See you next time 🙂