When I was a boy, growing-up in Hawaii, my father would commemorate Boys’ Day each 5 May by running two Japanese carp flags up the flagpole—a big red and white one (for me) and a smaller black and white one (for my younger brother). Boys’ Day! It made me feel so important! I am (a quarter) Chinese, not Japanese, and previous years had given me no reason to expect that any further benefits would come my way on that day. But I loved the celebration as a youngster and I love the idea of the holiday now.
Apparently, the Japanese no longer agree: in recent years, Boys’ Day (or Tango no Sekku) has been renamed “Children’s Day” (Kodomo no Hi), despite the fact that Girl’s Day (Hinamatsuri) was just celebrated on 3 March.
I suppose current parenting philosophy maintains that boys have been spoiled enough; it’s time for the girls to pull-ahead. And maybe it is time. All I remember is being so happy to be a boy, watching my dad hook my carp to the flagpole line—and knowing that, for one full day, the large carp flying over our house was because of me!
The bookends, pictured above, capture a little boy—pouting, just a little. Perhaps his father didn’t fly a carp for him?