May 5th is Children’s Day in Japan, or kodomo no hi (子供の日). Originally, it was a holiday for boys (still is somewhat), but nowadays kids in general enjoy Children’s Day. Many kids like to hang koinobori (wind streamers shaped like Koi fish) and families with boys will often decorate their houses with little suits of armor, similar to the dolls on Girls’ Day. This is Little Guy’s first Children’s Day, or hatsuzekku (初節句),1 so we were excited. We were unable to get a suit of armor from Japan,2 but my wife did cook a great dinner:
The rice is mochi rice (mochigome もち米), with baby bamboo, shrimp and such. The soup is suimono (すいもの), and the main dish was American-style fish sticks but with a nice Japanese style carrot-and-onion dressing. My wife is good at taking regular ingredients and being creative. I’m too left-brained, so I prefer to just follow recipes. ;)
One classic treat for Children’s Day is kashiwamochi (柏餅), which is mochi wrapped in leaves from a Sweet Oak tree (kashiwa):
There’s a sweet, fruity filling inside. They’re quite good. But if you try them, don’t eat the leaves. I thought they were like sakuramochi from Girl’s Day (which are edible), so I took a big bite, but the leaves were much tougher and hard to chew. Oops. ;p
Also, since we didn’t have a suit of armor to decorate the house, my wife made these kabuto (兜 “samurai helmet”) pastries:
She said she found the recipe online, and made them with spring-roll wraps and apple-filling. Pretty clever.
Little Guy is only 6 months old, so he can only eat just mashed rice and prunes, but he still wanted to try them:
This was our first real Children’s Day as a family and we had lots of fun. We hope to celebrate many more with Little Guy and Princess. :)
P.S. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten kashiwa leaves by accident before. I have a bad memory.
1 The sekku (節句) are the seasonal holidays I mentioned in other posts: Girl’s Day, Day of the Chrsanthemum, Nanakusa and such.
2 We’ll just buy it in Japan in a few months and bring back. It will save a lot of money on shipping.