While people in Japan put up decorations to celebrate different holidays, most of them are placed inside the home, such as the dolls for Girls’ Day/Hina Matsuri in March or the vegetables displayed during Obon in the summer. Out in public, though, though, you’d be hard-pressed to tell one Japanese holiday from another, with the exception of Children’s Day/Kodomo no Hi on May 5.

That’s because when Children’s Day rolls around, all you have to do is look up at all of the beautifully awesome carp streamers flying overhead,

Children’s Day used to be known as Boys’ Day, and families with sons would fly a carp streamer (koinobori in Japanese) for each of their male children above their home. As the cloth caught the breeze, it would writhe back and forth, looking like it was valiantly swimming upstream, which was taken as a symbol showing that the family’s young men would grow up to be similarly strong and brave.

Since May 5 became officially renamed Children’s Day, some families have begun flying carp streamers for their daughters as well, although the practice is still much more widespread in families with boys. What hasn’t changed, though, is how cool they look.


While many families still fly their koinobori individually from the roofs or balconies of their own homes, in some communities they’re displayed en masse, often strung over a river.

While this practice is most common in rural areas, you can sometimes spot it in more developed areas as well.

Of course, if you’re living in the concrete jungle of urban Japan, you might not have a river nearby. That’s not an insurmountable problem, though, as shown in this video by expat and YouTube user BusanKevin who lives in an apartment complex that hangs its koinobori between the high-rises.

Sometimes, the koinobori are amassed in such a large school of fabric fish that they almost block out the sky.


▼ Even this dog got in on the carp streamer fun.

▼ A rare case of color-coordinated koinobori

As a matter of fact, koinobori have such an established cultural legacy that they were even included in Disney’s Big Hero 6, albeit in mechanized form.

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And of course, like any iconic image of Japan, they look especially cool with Mt. Fuji in the background.

See you again next year, koinobori!

Source: Kaigai Matome.net
Insert image: YouTube