Kodomo no Hi – Children’s day Japan, also known as Boy’s Day, is a national holiday that is celebrated annually on May 5th. It is the last of four public holidays that comprise Golden Week. There are two symbols of Kodomo no Hi: the “Kabuto” samurai helmet and “Koinobori” flying carp. This article includes Kabuto and Koinobori Kodomo no hi crafts, coloring pages, origami and other resources for Children’s Day under lock down in 2020 and 2021.
This year (2020) for the first time we will be at home for the whole of Golden Week due to the Stay Home campaign. Normally, families my own included go to a children’s day festival called kodomo matsuri on Kodomo no Hi. However, with a nationwide quasi lock down and a Stay Home directive for several prefectures incorporating all of Golden Week 2020 and again in 2021, it is requested we stay at home.
My four children are aged between five and ten years of age. Over the years we have done many Golden Week activities together from the time they were old enough to hold a piece of origami (around 18 months old). While researching things to do with them this year while we are at home all day everyday, I came across some old favorites and some new ideas too.
Below the next paragraph with general information about Golden Week, you will find a selection of activities and free resources to celebrate and / or introduce kodomo no hi to your children. No Japanese language skills needed.
Golden Week Holidays
Golden week is a period of public holidays that falls at the end of April and early May in Japan every year. During that period there are four public holidays. Often people take a couple of annual leave days to give them a week to two weeks off, including weekends.
The public holidays in Golden Week are:
- Showa No Hi on April 29th
- Constitution Day on May 3rd
- Greenery Day on May 4th
- Kodomo no Hi, aka Children’s Day, on May 5th
If one of these dates falls on a Sunday, another day is given off in lieu.
Kodomo no Hi
Children’s day falls annually on May 5th, the last day of Golden week in Japan. It is also called boy’s day. Girl’s day is earlier in the year on March 3rd. In Japan three was the first large milestone in girl’s lives hence the date of the 3rd day of the 3rd month. Similarly, five was the milestone for boys and the fifth date of the fifth month became boys day. Originally it was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon when the festival was known as Tango no Sekku.
Girl’s day is not a public holiday, but as boy’s day is also children’s day it is a national holiday. Flying carp (carp shaped streamers / kites / flags) and kabuto samurai helmets are the widely recognized symbols and paraphernalia of children’s day. The flying carp are hung from balconies. They usually have a large black carp to represent the father, a large red / pink carp for the mother and one smaller carp (usually blue, orange or green) for each child. We display a kabuto set in our homes. In the past, the legendary hero Kintaro also featured in Kodomo no Hi celebrations.
Children’s Day Japan Crafts and Resources
Make a Kabuto samurai helmet
- Information and instructions in English from the Boston Children’s Museum
- Easy origami / square paper helmet Youtube instruction
- Advanced Newspaper Kabuto samurai helmet Youtube Instruction
Mini Kabuto Helmet Decoration Set
Beautiful (and easy) kabuto display craft from paper museum: just print, cut and glue.
- Open the link and click the dark grey button to the right of the photo to download the free printable 「ダウンロード」
- Click the white button below the grey button「作り方」 for instructions. They are in the Japanese language, but with clear photo instructions.
- Koinobori Song in English on Youtube
- Koinobori Song in Japanese with romaji (english alphabet) on Youtube
Koinobori flying carp
- Youtube instruction for Origami Flying carp that also serves as a sweets / candy pouch!
- Easy print, cut and glue paper craft from Kids Nifty.
Toilet Roll Holder children’s day craft
I love these colorful carp from Squirrelly Minds. They take a bit more skill and time than crafts with a printable, so they are suited to older children.
Printable children’s day crafts
- Easy Koinobori flying carp
- Flying Carp Mobile
- When you open the link, click the dark grey button to the right of the image for the free printable
- Click the white button below it for instructions. Its in the Japanese language but with very clear step by step photos
Kintaro was the childhood name of the legendary samurai Minamoto no Yorimitsu. Some people still display a Kintaro doll in their house for children’s day, but it is not as common as it was in the past.
- The story of Kintaro free from Gutenberg.
- The Kintaro storybook in basic Japanese on the free International Children’s Digital Library
Kodomo no Hi
Kodomo No Hi coloring pages
- A boy making an origami Kabuto from Happy Lilac
- A carp, which can also be cut out and made into koinobori
- Print, color and roll for an easy Koinobori
- A full kodomo no hi lesson plan from About Japan (A teacher’s resource)
- A huge selection of free Kodomo no Hi posters from Putiya.
- Free educational worksheet
- K is for Koinobori worksheet
Children’s day spot the difference activities
- Party scene from Happy Lilac: Easy ・Intermediate・Difficult
- Flying carp from Happy Lilac: Easy ・Intermediate・Difficult
If you’re looking for ideas for Kodomo no Hi Obentos, the Origami Club site is great for inspiration. They don’t give instructions, just dozens of obento photos that are easy to replicate. Official site.
I hope your kids can enjoy some crafts or activities for the 2020 / 2021 Kodomo no Hi day at home. Happy Children’s Day!