Japan Blog random header image

Haha no hi

red carnation
On May 11 of this year, many countries around the world celebrated Mother’s Day. This celebration is something that spans cultures and races all over the world. In Japan, it is known as haha no hi. Though Mother’s Day originates from the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations, it was not till after World War II that it was introduced to Japan.

We all have our own ways of celebrating Mother’s Day and giving honor to the woman who gave us our lives. How do they do it in Japan? Ever since the practice was introduced in the country, the custom was for people to give carnations to mothers. Though some people prefer to give white carnations, as they are thought to symbolize the virtues of , the color red is preferred in Japan. Of course, many people give other kinds of flowers during this day as well. One thing that is not too common during Mother’s Day is to give cards to mothers, though this is quite an acceptable practice as well.

Another practice for Mother’s Day is for children between the ages of 6 and 14 to enter art contests with their mothers as the subjects of their works of art. This is another way of honoring their mothers. More often than not, an exhibit of these drawings is displayed from one country to another in order to showcase the talent of the children and to give more honor to their mothers.

Kodomo no hi Or Children’s Day

koi kites
In the last post, I talked about Hinamatsuri, or the festival for girls. Though this is quite an important part of Japanese culture, it cannot be denied that there is another similar festival that puts the nation at a standstill – Kodomo no hi. Kodomo no hi is actually Children’s Day and takes place on the 5th of May – yes, yesterday. It is considered a National Holiday and is meant to celebrate children (of course) and their varying personalities and to wish them happiness.

It was not always known as Children’s Day, however. Prior to 1948, when it was changed to Children’s Day and proclaimed a National Holiday, this day was called Tango no Sekku, or Boys’ Day. This was also known as the Feast of Banners.

The reason behind the Feast of Banners tag is that tradition dictates that families fly fish banners or fish kites on this day. These fish are actually koi and the banners have come to represent the hopes of the parents for their children – in particular, their sons. Koi fish are known to be full of energy and courage and they can swim against strong currents.

Today, Children’s Day is celebrated all over the country for both boys and girls. Many Japanese communities outside of Japan also celebrate with festivities of their own. Indeed, those fish kites flying are a sight to behold.

For Doll Lovers Only: Hinamatsuri

hinamatsuri display
Japan is well known for its exotic festivals that attract people from all over the world. For the Japanese, though, these festivals hold much deeper meanings than merely showcasing what their culture has to offer. One of the longest running traditions in the Japanese culture is called the Hinamatsuri, or Japanese Doll Festival.

Hinamatsuri started way back in the Heian Period and has its origin in an old Japanese belief that dolls contained evil spirits. In the old days, dolls made of straw were sent floating down the river out to the sea. The goal was to send away the evil spirits.

Today, the festival takes on a different light and is celebrated on the 3rd of March. The festival is actually aimed at little girls, wherein the family prays for their happiness, safety, and prosperity. Those who take part in the celebrations display special dolls if they have girls in the family.

Another name for Hinamatsuri is Momo no Sekku, which translates to Peach Festival. The dolls which are displayed are called Hina dolls and they are placed on tiered platforms with following configuration:

• Sitting at the top center are Emperor and Empress. They are wearing the twelve-layered ceremonial robe called juhni-hitoe).
• On the next step stand three Court Ladies.
• On the 3rd step play five Musicians.
• On the lowest two steps are miniatures of tableware used to serve these people.
• Small set with Court house: two Warriors guard the Court people.
• On the right are peach blossoms.

This configuration actually follows the hierarchy of the Heian Period Imperial Court.

Miuro: Music Robot

Are you tired of having to crank up the volume of your stereo or computer just so you can hear your music from wherever you are in the house? Then the Miuro is the gadget for you. Miuro is fondly called the music robot and it promises to add a new dimension to your listening pleasure.

Shaped like an egg, it is 14 inches long and comes in white, black, yellow, and red. Miuro is made by ZMP Inc. in cooperation with Kenwood – giving you the assurance of high quality sound.

So what makes Miuro better than other music players? Aside from the fact that it can roll around and groove on its own, it can stream music wirelessly from the PC. It can also be connected to your iPod. What I really like about this gadget is that it is equipped with a camera, a sensor, and a remote. These things allow the user to “beckon” to the Miuro wherever he is (within range of course) and it will come to him – cleverly avoiding obstacles in its way.

It doesn’t stop at that though – once it locates the user, the Miuro positions itself so that it will be at the optimal distance for the best sound quality. THEN, it moves around to the beat of the music! Now, all that is hard to beat!

So how much does this thing cost? Prepare about $1000 (maybe a little under it).