Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Carpe Diem #213, Tango (Boys' Day or Boys' Festival)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to read all of your haiku inspired on the one by Kikusha-Ni and what a coincedence that there were several of you who used the rain puddle in their haiku, just as I did. Really I am looking forward to the next Special, but that's in about 6 days, today we share haiku on Tango (Boys' Day or Boys' Festival). This  festival is always on the 5th day of the 5th moon in the lunar calendar which was used in classical Japan. When Japan started to use the Western calendar this day would have been on the 5th of June, but Boys' Day however is still at hand on 5th May, so you would say it's for Spring, but that's not true. Boys' Festival was one the first Summer festivals, so it's a kigo for early Summer.
I will return to that after this. I love to share something else with you all. As you may know in July I have Jane Reichhold chosen for our Specials. She is still alive (she's now 76 yrs) so I had to ask for her permission to use her haiku. Well ... on June 2nd I have e-mailed her with that question and I have included a little interiew of four questions. So I am in awe and I hope she will answer this e-mail, we will see. I will keep you all informed.
OK ... back to our prompt, our classical kigo, for today, Tango (Boys' Day).


On this day Japanese families celebrate Tango-no-Sekku, the Boys' Festival. With its special customs and observances, it is Japan's way of celebrating the healthy growth and development of her young boys.
If one travels through Japan from the latter half of April to early May, one sees nearly everywhere huge, gay-colored Koi-Nobori, carp-like streamers made of paper or cloth, which fill with wind and seem to swim in the air. Together with long red and white ribbons, the carp are hoisted on a bamboo pole, mounted by a pair of gilded pinwheels, high above the rooftops.A carp is flown for each son in the family, a very large one for the eldest, the others ranging down in size.
The carp has become the symbol of the Boys' Festival because the Japanese consider it the most spirited of fish, so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals. The carp is an appropriate symbol to encourage manliness and the overcoming of life's difficulties leading to consequent success.
There are several legends around this Boy’s Festival which I love to share one of here:

This legend traces the origin of the Boys' Festival to Tokimune Hojo's victory over them invading Mongols on May 5, 1282. As a result, Samurai families erected the flags and streamers in celebration of the victory. Others believe that the unification of the country by the Ashikaga Shogun in the 14th century had been celebrated in this fashion on every May 5 until the interior decorations came to be emphasized.

Credits: Decorations for Boys' Day, a miniature samourai helmet and armor

displayed helmet
the young boy's father
a samourai

In the modern observance of Tango-no-Sekku, a display is arranged in the tokonoma, or alcove, in the guest rooms of Japanese houses. Among the decorations are a miniature helmet, suits of armor, a sword, a bow and arrow, silk banners bearing the family crest and the warrior dolls which represent Kintaro, a Herculean boy who grew up to be a general; Shoki, an ancient Chinese general believed to protect people from devils; and Momotaro, the Japanese David the Giant killer.

Credits: Japanese Iris, the long narrow leaves look somewhat like a sword

boys playing
samourai battles
with Irises

Shobu, the Japanese iris, the long narrow leaf of which is somewhat like a sword in shape, has always been closely associated with the Boys' Festival. The iris leaf is prominent in the observance of Tango-no-Sekku because the sound of the word Shobu, although written with different characters, implies striving for success.

striving for success
the young boys play like Samourai
Iris swords in hand

A lovely Festival I think as Japan has many. I hope you enjoyed the read and I hope that you all are inspired to write haiku with this classical Japanese kigo. Have fun, be inspired and creative ... share your haiku with us here on Carpe Diem, the place to be if you like writing and sharing haiku.

This prompt will stay on 'til June 6th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our next episode, Hatsugatsuo (First Bonito), later on today around 10.00 PM (CET).


  1. I especially like the middle one about swordfighting with irises. I could not resist a little "carpe diem" humor today in my attempt....

  2. Went with the Carp banners in my entry.. Love all the backgrounds here. I am busy tonight as I have my first Open Link Night manning the bar.. But I'll be back and read all the entries

  3. I loved this episode...I sat here, looking up, inspired by my collection of Japanese dolls...not many, but one a samurai. This all brought back many pleasant recollections of Boys day in Japan.