Asian Heritage Month – Kodomo no Hi

The month of May is recognized as Asian Heritage Month in Canada.  There is no equivalent in Mexico, but Asian heritage is considered the fourth root of Mexican heritage, after its native, European, and African roots.  Mexico signed commerce accords with Japan in the 1800s, becoming the first Latin American country to receive organized Japanese immigration starting in 1897, first to work in coffee plantations in the Southern state of Chiapas, and later extending to other regions, including an important migration of miners to Northern Mexico.  During WWII, Japanese residents were forced to move to Central Mexico, allegedly to keep them away from committing any chicanery near ports and the US border; after the end of the war, Mexico was one of the first countries to re-establish diplomatic relations with Japan.  Many Japanese immigrants arrived by boat to ports along the Pacific Ocean, such as Acapulco, in the state of Guerrero, and Mazatlan, in Sinaloa.  Nowadays, there are important Asian communities in several Mexican states, such as The Nisei and Sansei Association in Sinaloa.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this community of second and third generation Japanese descendants organized a Festival on April 30 (Children’s Day in Mexico), inspired by the Japanese equivalent Kodomo no Hi, which is celebrated in Japan on May 5.  My sister and her family participated, and she sent me some photos that my brother in-law took during the festivities:

The event took place outdoors, at the Culiacan Aquatic Centre.  There was a pond with live carps, as a welcoming gesture:

001 pond with carp

The most distinctive symbols of Kodomo no Hi are the flying carps – Koi no Bori, fabric windsocks shaped as carps in bright colours that are aligned and hung outside houses, usually one for each member of the family.  The flying carps were present as decorations at the venue:

Displaying Samurai armour in a household on Kodomo no Hi, was a symbol of protection of the children; families that did not have such luminaries in their family, began making Samurai gear with paper, particularly the Kabuto – Samurai helmet, and that custom has remained to this day.  At the festival, there were free paper folding crafts (Origami), including Kabuto, for participants of all ages:

Two traditional treats to serve in Japan are Kashiwa Mochi, which is a rice cake with red bean paste in the middle, then wrapped in oak leaves, a symbol of good fortune and prosperity; and Chirashi Sushi, a bowl of sushi rice and toppings.  At the event, Japanese themed food was available at reasonable prices; some of the offerings were onigiri (steamed rice balls with different fillings, photo below, left), Matcha cookies (green tea flavoured, photo below, centre), and dorayaki (pancakes sandwiching traditionally red bean paste, but in this case, Nutella™, photo below, right):

A decorated stage highlighted performances throughout the afternoon, including Martial Arts (photo below, left), drummers (centre), and traditional Japanese songs, with the young guests of honour on stage, singing and dancing with the performers (right):

There were also crafts:

And games:

And special stations, were people of all ages could learn new pastimes and skills, for example, Shodo (Japanese calligraphy, photo below, left).  My sister was demonstrating, and helping people learn, how to hold and use Hashi (chopsticks, photo below, right):

All in all, the event was a great success, and from my brother in-law’s pictures and my sister’s enthusiastic account, I can tell that a lot of work, thought and planning went into it.  

In 2015, my husband was attending a conference in California, and after that, our daughters and I joined him in San Francisco for a family vacation. It just so happened that we were visiting their Japan Town on May 5, and the Japanese community was holding a fun festival for all the children; my older daughter took the photo below, of me, my younger daughter, and my husband, in front of the Peace Pagoda, and a few flying carps – Koi no Bori:

That day, I had the opportunity to buy the pink flying carp pictured at the top of this post.  Also shown at the top of the post are a couple of folded paper Samurai helmets (Origami Kabuto), made with craft brown paper cut into large squares; the width of the finished helmet will be half the length of the diagonal of the initial square.  I made a large helmet, with the diagonal of the initial square measuring 78 cm (30 inches), and a kid size helmet, with diagonal measuring 56 cm (22 inches).  I also folded a small sample using Origami paper, with diagonal measuring 21 cm (8.25 inches), to illustrate the instructions for making an Origami Kabuto:

If the paper has a blank side, start with that side facing up, with a corner pointing towards you (bottom of photo below, left).  Take the opposite corner to meet the bottom one, and fold the square into a triangle (photo below, centre).  Take the left corner, and make it meet the right one, to form a smaller triangle (photo below, right):

Undo the second fold, and use the mark in the middle as a guide, to bring the side corners to meet the bottom (photo below, left). Take one corner  (photo below, centre), and fold it up; repeat with the other corner (photo below, right):

Make narrow folds outwards, as shown in the photo below, left.  Now take one layer from the bottom and fold it about halfway up, showing the blank side as a triangle (photo below, centre).  Fold again to form helmet rim (photo below, right):

Take the second layer of paper from the bottom, and tuck it inside the helmet (photo below, left); continue pushing, to line the inside of the back side of the helmet (photo below, centre).  The finished product is a nice Origami Kabuto (photo below, right):

                 ¡Feliz Día de los Niños!          Happy Children’s Day!            

こどものひ、おめでとう!            Kodomo no Hi, Omedetou! 

For your convenience, click on the highlighted text below for products available on Amazon™. DISCLAIMER: Any reviews included in this post are my own, for items I have purchased, not provided by any company; as an Amazon Associates Program affiliate, I might receive a commission for any purchases originated from the links below, at no extra cost to you. Thank you to readers who have bought any other products starting with a click from my links!

5 thoughts on “Asian Heritage Month – Kodomo no Hi

  1. I don’t know what happened to my comment. Yes! We have been celebrating since Sakura day and I will be going again tomorrow. Awesome detailed post, Irene.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s