Thursday, May 5, 2011

humanizing the quake (children's day)


Like February 3 (bean-throwing festival) and March 3 (doll's day festival), May 5 is one of the "seasonal divisions" that we celebrate during the year in Japan. We call this day Kodomo-no-Hi (Children's Day), the day on which we express our hope that our children will grow up physically strong and courageous against adversity. One of our customs is to run huge carp-shaped windsocks called koi-nobori up a flagpole set up outside specifically for that purpose.

When I was little, the festival was for boys, and people hung as many koi-nobori as there were boys in the household. Nowadays everyone in the family gets represented. Sometimes villages will stretch a rope across a stream or between two buildings and hang enough koi-nobori to represent the whole community. It's an amazing sight when the wind blows, making the koi-nobori appear as though they are swimming vigorously against an imaginary river current and leaping over imaginary rapids.

Today, thanks to the assistance of volunteers from all over the country, special Children's Day programs were held for the children in evacuation centers all over the Tohoku region. I don't know if there has ever been a Children's Day that meant as much to me as it did today. I trust that these kids will successfully maneuver the trials that they face, and that they will grow up to be strong and courageous adults.

The Japanese words on the etegami at the top say "we are all connected."

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for bringing to us the human face of all that is going on in Japan. You have made me far more aware of Japan and its customs.

    I love your work - the style, colours and meaning - and enjoy visiting your blog. This post is so full of life and brings a sense of hope for the future.

    Thank you also for the many visits you have made to my blog, although I don't get to post as often as I would like to, and for your encouraging and positive comments.

    Judith

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  2. Customs are always a big help when facing difficult moments and what a better way with children?

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  3. Just stumbled across your blog through an IF comment and it's wonderful! As long as I can remember, I've been in awe of Japanese woodblock prints along with the naturally clean, lovely and brilliantly simple design and concepts of Japanese art and you carry that in your work. Thank you for sharing your work and your process. Your work is lovely.

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  4. Koi-nobori are still one of my favorite memories of Japan. I love these two etegami!

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  5. Thank you for this information...very interesting.

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  6. I think I'm going to cry. What a beautiful thing to do for the children of Tohoku. And what a beautiful sentiment in your lovely etegami.

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  7. I imagine this would be an amazing sight to see, as you have described it with your art and words. Joining you in this hopeful celebration! :o)

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  8. I love your illustrations and your posts are always interesting. They give a little insight into the beautiful customs and traditions in Japan and its great to hear that they are still so relevant today and even more so during what must be such a difficult time.

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  9. Thanks Debbie, love the fish! Colors are great. I saw your recipe layout in the "book" Great Job Ms. Published!

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  10. I love this bright, strong piece--feels alive with soul.

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