The Koi Society of Coffs Harbour, in collaboration with the Bonsai Society and the Australia-Japan Society, host the Japanese Festival of Children's Day in Coffs Harbour on the first Sunday in May.
It is a fun filled day for all the family with, Taiko drummers, magicians, kojis castle, traditional water melon smashing competitions, six pop up Japanese restaurants, cooking demonstrations, calligraphy, kite building and flying origami, samurai warriors, anime comics and guest appearances by Mr Hooker Bear.
About Japanese Festival of Children’s Day and Koinobori
The Japanese Festival of Children’s Day is a national holiday in Japan.
The holiday comes from an ancient Chinese story about carp, which swam up a waterfall and turned into dragons. The carp, or koi in Japanese, became symbols of perseverance.
The Japanese version tells of the koi swimming up the waterfall, but does not mention the dragons.
Families fly giant carp windsocks - or koinobori - from flagpoles next to the house for about one month before the holiday and about two weeks to a month after.
Originally, flags with symbols of strength, such as carp and the family crest were flown on the same flagpole as a streamer called a fukinagashi. This symbolised the whip, the busho, samurai warrior leaders carried into battle. The busho was a symbol of the samurais' authority. Later the other symbols were dropped and only carp and sometimes the fukinagashi were used.
The Koinobori were presented to the people of Coffs Harbour in 2005 by the people of our sister city Sasebo, Japan, to enable the people of Coffs Harbour to understand the cultural significance of the 'Boys Day Festival'. 'Boys Day' has been renamed in Japan as 'Children's Day' to include all children in the festival.
About the Koi
There are thirteen basic varieties of Koi fish and dozens of sub categories.
Koi fish originated in Japan back in 800AD and were bred as a food crop in the flooded rice fields and lakes in the Nigata Prefecture, North west of Tokyo.
Over the centuries, these colourful fish were often kept as pets. Selections of these were presented to the Emperor of the day who named them Nishikigoi, meaning ‘living jewels’.
For the last two hundred years, Koi fish have been bred commercially in Japan and sold to enthusiasts worldwide. There are many international competitions.
As an integral part of Japanese culture, Koi represent strength and determination overcoming adversity and this is the subtle message for children at the Children’s Day Festival which is symbolized by the flying of the Koi Kites ‘Koi Nobori’.