Children | Japan | Living in Mexico


Children receive lots of love, care and guidance—maybe even a little reverence. We arrived in Japan on May 6, one day after Children's Day (Kodomo-no-i). Originally referred to as "Boy's Day," for political correctness it was renamed Children’s Day. It is a national holiday.

Well, it may have been renamed, but it's still all about boys. Families fly carp-shaped streamers (
koinobori) on tall bamboo poles outside the house: one for each son. (The carp is a symbol of strength in Japan.) Boys decorate a warrior doll with armor. Rice cakes (kashiwamochi) filled with sweet red beans and wrapped in oak leaves are served. Somewhere along the way, I'm sure we were served these. They'll never replace Dove Dark Chocolate Squares.

Some days later, in Kyoto, we happened upon another festival for children. I never found out the purpose of the celebrations, but it seemed to be tied somehow to Shintoism, as groups of children and their parents carried portable shrines to a temple where everyone gathered, beating drums and having a good time.


The portable shrines appeared to be heavy, so only the adults carried them. But drum-beating was open to all.


The boy with the drumstick's head band has fallen down. He's ignoring it. Flaunting tradition.

Everyone was wearing Happi Coats (pronounced "hoppy"), even very small participants. His coat works well with the bunnies on his shirt and the Pooh figures on his pants.


Some kids dressed up in dragon suits. This one roared at me and bit me on the hand, but I wasn't really scared. Pretty much not scared, anyway. Big teeth, though.


This dragon had a wardrobe malfunction. The shoes don't help much, either.


Here, Jean posed with a bunch of girls. Cute, aren't they? Jean has no idea why she's holding her fingers like that.


For more kid pictures, check out this flickr photoset.