When children are learning new languages, introducing them to multicultural activities that relate to the new language is a fantastic way for them to get involved. If you are teaching your child Japanese, they’ll love learning about “Kodomo no Hi” (Koh-doh-moh noh Hee) or “Children’s Day” in Japan, which falls on “the fifth day of the fifth month,” or May 5th.
Kodomo no Hi was initially known as “Boys Day” in contrast to a “Girls Day” that is held in March. In 1948, though, the government moved to change it to “Children’s Day” to celebrate, respect and honor all children. Children in Japan enjoy the day off from school on Children’s Day. Below are some traditional ways families celebrate this special holiday and some fun activities to engage your little ones!
Japanese children often listen to the story of “Kintarō” or “Golden Boy” on Children’s Day. This famous legend tells the story of a young boy who was very strong and rode a bear rather than a horse. It’s custom for families with boys to decorate their home with a Kintarō doll in hopes that their boys will grow into brave, strong men. You can find a version of this story in English in “Kintaro’s Adventures and Other Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories” by Florence Sakade on Amazon.
Children’s Day Crafts
Japanese families often fly a “koinobori” flag outside their home to bring in good luck and fortune. This flag consists of a large black koi or carp fish to represent the father, a smaller red one to represent the mother, and smaller fish of different colors to represent each child. The koi fish symbolize strength and determination in Japanese culture as these fish are known for swimming upstream through strong currents. To celebrate Children’s Day in your home, you could make a similar koinobori flag to represent your family following these directions from the Asia Kids Society.
Get out the crayons – your kids will love this coloring page from Activity Village that showcases two children dressed in traditional Japanese dress. While they choose their colors, teach them how to say each color in Japanese to make language learning fun!
- Red – aka
- Orange – daidaiiro
- Yellow – kiiro
- Green – midori
- Blue – ao
- Purple – murasaki
- Pink – momoiro
- Black – kuro
- Brown – chairo
- Gray – haiiro
- White – shiro
Children’s Day Treats
The traditional food for Children’s Day is mochi, a pounded-down rice cake. If you have a Japanese or Asian grocery nearby, you might be able to buy pre-made mochi made with a sweet bean filling. Alternatively, purchase mochi powder to make your own. Kids will love rolling their own mochi balls.
For more ideas on how to celebrate the Japanese holiday, Children’s Day in your home, visit The Japan Society for photos and other fun activities for kids. If you’re interested in teaching your child Japanese, Little Pim can help. Learning a second language is a real brain booster for young kids. The Japanese Complete Set introduces 180 fundamental words and phrases your kids will want to repeat again and again. Watch a free trial of Japanese for kids.