Koi-nobori [鯉のぼり(こいのぼり)]

If you visit in Japan in May, you may see carps swimming in the sky.

Of course it is not real carp(Carp is "Koi[鯉(こい)]" in Japanese.). Its body is made of cloth and it is called Koi-nobori[鯉のぼり(こいのぼり)].

Koi-nobori at Ichinoe Nanushi YashikiKoi-nobori at Ichinoe Nanushi Yashiki
Koi-nobori at Ichinoe Nanushi Yashiki in Edogawa, Tokyo



Koi-nobori is displayed for children's health, growth & success in the garden on Tango no Sekku[端午の節句(たんごのせっく)]. Koi-nobori is a Japanese original custom but derived from a Chinese legend that the carp swimming up rapid stream of Longmen[龍門] River become dragon. This story is known as an allegory of the advancement.

In the Edo Period(1603--1868), Samurai's families displayed banners or floats with a family crest in front of the gate on Tango no Sekku.

In competition with them, citizens begun to display floats with painted Koi. It is the origin of Koi-nobori.


Hiroshige Utagawa,"Suidobashi Surugadai"
Hiroshige Utagawa, "Suidobashi-Surugadai from 100 Famous Views in Edo[江戸名所百景 - 水道橋 駿河台(すいどうばし するがだい)]":
With Koi-nobori, hanging banners or floats are seen in this picture.



Generally, It is said that biggest black carp is a father(Magoi[真鯉(まごい)]), red one is a mother(Higoi[緋鯉(ひごい)]) and small one is a child today.

Koi-nobori at Kokubun RiverKoi-nobori at Kokubun River
Koi-nobori at Kokubun River, Ichikawa, Chiba



From April to May 5, Koi-nobori festivals held throughout Japan. In Kazo[加須(かぞ)] City, Saitama Prefecture where is the largest production area of Koi-nobori, a huge Koi-nobori with 100 meters long swims in the sky. In Tsuetate Hot Spring[杖立温泉(つえたておんせん)], Oguni[小国(おぐに)] Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, about 3,500 Koi-noboris are hanged across the Tsuetate River through the hot spring town.

Koi-nobori at Tokyo TowerKoi-nobori at Tokyo Tower
Koi-nobori at Tokyo Tower in Minato, Tokyo







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