Thursday, April 30, 2009
expressing movement in etegami
In Japan, we are now smack in the middle of Golden Week, the period from April 29 to May 5 and whatever weekends can be roped in to expand its duration. There are four national holidays during this period, and since many companies chose to close for the in-between days, for much of the labor force it is the longest vacation period of the year. The etegami I posted today commemorates Kodomo-no-hi (Children's Day), which is celebrated every year on May 5. It is a drawing of a koi-nobori, one of the many huge carp-shaped windsocks that fly from tall poles next to homes, schools, and community parks all across Japan from April to early May. The custom honors children (originally only boys), and represents the hope that they will grow up healthy and strong like the carp, which is said to swim against the current. The number of koi-nobori flying from any one pole depends on the number of children (or sons) in the household. They are strung in the order of larger to smaller, and come in various colors. The largest one at the top represents the father of the family. Koi-nobori can be gorgeous works of art with beautiful details, and are treasured family heirlooms. They are made of soft fabric, with metal rings placed in the mouth openings, on which the string that connects them to the flag pole is tied. I wanted to convey the power and energy symbolized by the koi-nobori. So rather than showing how they look from afar --as pretty a sight as that is-- I chose to try a close-up of the Daddy Carp. Since the mouth isn't inside the frame of the card, someone unfamiliar with koi-nobori might think I was trying to draw a real live carp. But I was actually trying to show a koi-nobori whipping about in the wind, like a real live carp might swish and leap against a fast-moving river current. The accompanying words can be translated roughly as "with great vigor."