Koinobori for Children’s Day

Koinobori by photographer ucb

Koinobori by photographer ucb

Today, May 5th, Children’s Day is celebrated in Japan. It’s more traditionally known as Boy’s Day. An important part of the Children’s Day celebration is the flying of the Koinobori, which are beautiful Koi-shaped steamers. Ranging in size from a few inches to a few meters long, they appear to be swimming while flying in the breeze!

The Koinobori symbolize courage and strength and they’re flown to honor children, and to wish them health and success. The following is quoted from the site Hand-painted Koinobori, which hosts a wonderful interview with artist Takashi Hashimoto from 2005:

quoteKoinobori is a “Koi that is about to turn into a dragon” as in the Toryumon Legend. The Toryumon Legend…derived from a Chinese fable. The “Ryumom” legend has it that the Koi that swam up the rapids of the Yellow River in China turned into a dragon (in other words, made rise into the world). It means “pass to success.”

I have a wall-hanging in my office that depicts this very legend! The Koi are swimming and leaping in the rapids toward the magnificent dragon they hope to become. Dragons are powerful, and are said to be divine mythical creatures that bring ultimate abundance, prosperity, and good fortune.

This morning, I was lucky to catch an interesting segment on public television where Mr. Takashi Hashimoto had been interviewed. As far as I know, he is still making hand-painted Koinobori. He works on silk cotton fabric. It was fascinating to see his special brushes, and the beauty of his painting and brush work. They say the hand-painted Koinobori increase in beauty through the years and it’s not unusual for people to use them for 30 years or more!

The Koinobori are a beauty and delight. Since this isn’t something I’ve had to the good fortune to see in person (yet!), and photograph myself, I offer you a lovely photograph (with permission) taken by ucb.

What a wonderful thing to celebrate children and wish them all health and success!

3 comments to Koinobori for Children’s Day

  • Your beautiful photograph and story brough back memories of our first two years in Canada. We were at McGill in Montreal where my wife, Anne, worked as a programmer at the University and I worked bery jard on my MA Mcgill (failed.) Our first son was born there and a Japanese friend gave us a Koi “wind sock” ober a meter in length to celebrate his birth. We treasured that gift.


  • How interesting…I didn’t know that! I love that shot…I always have to remind myself to “Look Up”!!!!

  • @ John, Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful story about your own Koi-Nobori! How lovely that your family was given one as a gift to honor your son.

    @ Robin, I love that shot too. It was at Flickr under the Creative Commons license. The photographer, ucb, just asked for credit. I hope to see Koi-Nobori in person some day and shoot some photos of my own! 🙂 They’re so beautiful.