Kodomo no Hi 子供の日 is a Japanese festival held on May 5, since 1948. This festival is a day to wish for the health and growth of children, specifically boys. What are the typical Japanese dishes for Kodomo no Hi? And what is their origin? Discover the lucky dishes and desserts to eat on the children’s day.
The most common foods during the Kodomo no Hi festival
Common foods during Kodomo no Hi festival are red rice, sea bream, shrimps, carp, amberjack, sea bass, bonito, bamboo shoots and leaves…
By the way, the Japanese pronunciation of bonito is “Katsuo“, which means “the son of victory”.
Bamboo shoots are vegetables of the Kodomo no Hi festival season. Bamboo grows quickly. The bamboo shoot dishes represent the hope that the boys will grow up quickly.
During the Kodomo no Hi festival, the house is decorated with a miniature helmet called kabuto or a statuette in armor with the image of Kintaro, the legendary child with superhuman strength.
You can also see many Koinobori floating, mats on which are hung colorful carps, made of paper or silk. Carp is a symbol of longevity, success and good growth. For this reason, some dishes are often shaped like a fish or a rider’s helmet. Dishes and pastries vary greatly in different regions of Japan.
Kashiwa mochi かしわ餅, pastry from the Kanto region
Kashiwa leaves are filled with meanings such as “prosperity of the offspring” and “health of the parents“.
Chimaki 粽, riz gluant dans la région du Kansai
Chimaki, which is often eaten in the Kansai region, is a snack prepared with either glutinous rice or glutinous rice with meat or bamboo shoots and wrapped in bamboo leaves.
It is said to have been originally introduced from China.
Kusa mochi 草餅 which is said to ward off evil spirits
Kusa mochi is a Japanese confection made by mixing bean paste with mugwort and other herbs.
Mugwort was believed to have the power to ward off evil and disease, so it became popular as a good luck charm.
Beko mochi べこ餅 in Hokkaido
Beko mochi is popular in Hokkaido. It is made of rice powder with sugar, and brown cane sugar. The texture is like dango (dumpling), the smell is similar to rice cake.
The bamboo leaf is also scented.
Sasa dango 笹団子 in Niigata
Sasa dango are mugwort dumplings with red bean paste and wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Sasa maki 笹巻き in Yamagata
Sasa maki is made with glutinous rice boiled in bamboo leaves and is triangular in shape.
In Yamagata, they are usually soaked or sprinkled with sweet soy powder or kinako.
Akumaki あくまき in Kagoshima
A bamboo leaf soaked overnight is used to wrap sticky rice soaked in the same way.
Because it is slightly bitter, it is usually eaten with mixed sugar and toasted soy flour (kinako), with a little salt or dipped in honey.
Ideas for dishes and desserts for the children’s party or dragon boats
Sushi, culinary emblem of Japan, will be declined in the shape of carp at home as the inari sushi or the futomaki.
A rolled cake in the shape of carp and Japanese strawberry shortcake
The pastries will be of course declined in the shape of fish.
It will be easy to make scales with strawberries on a cake roll for example or to add a small statuette on a Japanese strawberry shortcake!
Kabuto spring roll カブト春巻き
Spring rolls folded like Kabuto soldier helmets that are filled with meat, ham or cheese!
They are fried fritters, and will make sensations with the small sausages cut in the shape of carp.
Chirashi sushi, a friendly and festive dish
Chirashi sushi is a perfect dish for the holidays. So why not make a chirashi sushi with shrimp and bamboo shoots and a unique decoration for the Children’s Day.
Here is our recipe for chirashi sushi, perfect for the festival.
The Japanese imperial calendar “Gosekku” 五節句
The day of Kodomo no hi originally called Tango no sekku, “dragon boats” is actually part of the 5 annual traditions of the Japanese imperial calendar called gosekku, 五節句. Still celebrated today, the other 4 are:
- January 7, called Nanakusa no Sekku ( 七草の節句, festival of the 7 herbs)
- March 3, called Hina Matsuri (上巳, the doll festival)
- on July 7 the famous tanabata festival 七夕, also called the “star festival”
- and finally, on September 9, kiku no sekku, (重陽) the Chrysanthemum Festival.