Celebrate Children’s Day, Japanese style



“Tucsonans will honor children of all ages as they celebrate the Japanese holiday of Children’s Day on May 2 at Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, Southern Arizona’s only authentic Japanese garden.  Originally a festival to wish for the health and happiness of boys, Kodomo no Hi, or Children’s Day, as it is now called, honors all children with traditional decorations and activities.  The festival at Yume Japanese Gardens will take place from 1 to 4:30 pm.  All activities are included with paid admission to the Gardens“, located at 2130 N. Alvernon Way.

Customarily held on May 5th in Japan, families fly carp streamers, or koinobori, outside their house as the carp is a symbol of strength, determination, vigor, and success.  Figurines of Japanese warriors and heroes are set up inside the house along with representations of samurai helmets to inspire strength and bravery.  Children eat special foods, such as kashiwa mochi—rice cakes stuffed with bean paste and wrapped in oak leaves—and chimaki—dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves.  Special events for children and families are also held throughout the country.

 The annual celebration at Yume Japanese Gardens offers families the beautiful setting of a Japanese garden to rejoice in the individual strengths of children and wish for their continued happiness.  This year the celebration will feature yukata for children to wear, goldfish netting, the making of traditional Japanese kites, lessons in origami, Japanese toys, and a performance by a children’s drumming group.”

Also ongoing (opened on April 28) is a Children’s Day display at the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, 4455 E. Camp Lowell Dr.  More info at www.theminitimemachine.org.  This display runs through May 10, 2015. Childrens-Day-featured-image

Tango no Sekku or Children’s Day is a Japanese national holiday celebrating the healthy growth and development of children, especially boys. The purpose of the holiday is to encourage children to grow to be strong leaders and powerful individuals. Celebrated on May 5th, Children’s Day became a national holiday in 1948.

Prior to that time many people celebrated May 5th as Boy’s Day. In celebration of the holiday schools have the day off and many families plan outings to fun places like amusement parks. Preceding Children’s Day is Girl’s Day, celebrated two months prior on March 3rd. There are many comparable traditions between the two celebrations, such as setting up a tiered display of traditionally dressed dolls and accessories. These traditional displays of figures and other objects are called Musha Ningyo.

The Children’s Day Display at The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures dates to the mid-20th century and was donated to the museum in 2014 by Nancy Phillips. The display will be up from April 24 through May 10, 2015.

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).


  1. Volunteered at the Yume Japanese Gardens Children’s Festival by helping kids & their parents make shaved ice (ice shave, Japanese style with condensed mild and red or blue coloring called Kakigori). It’s been a long time since I’ve done that and it was lots of fun (and cool too). Also available were goldfish catching (and keeping), origami, paper kite making, sand box sculpturing. Small & colorful koinobori (wind socks) were available for purchase. Celebrate Boy’s Day on May 5 by flying a koi kite. We always did that for my 2 brothers in Hawaii, and our son.

  2. Viewed the Children’s Day display (actually a Boys’ Day one) at the Mini Time Machine museum — quite impressive with miniature samurai armor, weaponry, koi socks and food displays. These displays were supposed to ward off evil spirits and help boys (now children) “strength, power, energy.” Celebrate Children’s Day tomorrow at Yume gardens and on 5/5/15, the actual Boys’ Day next week.

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