【Samurai K】Tango no Sekku: The Japanese Festival Celebrating Boys’ Growth

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I’m Japanese and I can speak, read and write a little bit of English. This article is written using Google Translate. Please forgive me if there are any mistakes.



In Japan, May 5th is a special day known as Tango no Sekku, or Boys’ Day, which celebrates the growth and well-being of boys.

This festival has been a cherished tradition for centuries, and it remains an important part of Japanese culture today.

In this blog post, we will explore the history, symbolism, and celebrations of Tango no Sekku, as well as its significance to Japanese culture.

History of Tango no Sekku

Tango no Sekku has its roots in ancient China, where it was believed that hanging up carp-shaped flags would prevent disasters and promote good luck.

This practice was later introduced to Japan, where it evolved into a festival to celebrate boys’ growth and success.

In the Edo period (1603-1868), Tango no Sekku became a national holiday, and it was celebrated by families and communities across the country.

Symbolism of Tango no Sekku

The most recognizable symbol of Tango no Sekku is the koinobori, or carp streamers, which are displayed outside homes and public places.

The carp is a symbol of strength and determination, and it is believed to be able to swim upstream against strong currents, just like boys must overcome challenges in their lives.

Additionally, Tango no Sekku is associated with the iris flower, which is said to have a purifying effect and ward off evil spirits.

Families may take an iris bath (shobu-yu) or eat kashiwa-mochi, a type of rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf, which symbolizes growth and strength.

Celebrations of Tango no Sekku

Tango no Sekku is celebrated in various ways across Japan, depending on local traditions and customs.

One of the most impressive celebrations is the samurai parade, in which boys dress up in samurai armor and helmets and march through the streets.

This parade symbolizes the bravery and strength of boys, as well as their future success.

Families may also decorate their homes with koinobori, display dolls and armor, and eat special foods like chimaki (sticky rice dumplings) and kashiwa-mochi.

Recently, there are fewer and fewer houses where children walk in armor and put out carp streamers.

This is also closely related to the declining birthrate and aging population in Japan and the housing situation.

Significance of Tango no Sekku

Tango no Sekku is not just a festival for boys; it is also an important part of Japanese culture and tradition.

It reflects the values and beliefs of the Japanese people, such as the importance of family, community, and perseverance.

By celebrating the growth and success of boys, Tango no Sekku reinforces the idea that everyone has the potential to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

This festival also serves as a reminder of Japan’s rich cultural heritage, and it provides a unique opportunity for people to experience Japanese customs and traditions.


Tango no Sekku is a vibrant and meaningful festival that celebrates the growth and well-being of boys in Japan.

Through its symbols, celebrations, and significance, it offers insight into the culture and traditions of the Japanese people.

By learning about Tango no Sekku, we can deepen our appreciation for Japan’s unique heritage and values, and recognize the universal human experience of growth and perseverance.

In addition to this, there is also a custom to put out armor decorations. Some have been handed down from generation to generation, and the one in our house was purchased by my father 50 years ago.

And it was passed on to my son.

However, due to the housing situation in Japan where there are many small houses, there are many small decorations.

Reference article

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