These totems, tumescent and wriggling in the blowing wind, can be seen one atop another all over Japan, as each family erects a long pole and decorates it with one Koi-noburi for each tender young boy in the house, with the largest representing the oldest boy at the top, and smaller ones for the youngsters beneath. The carp represents virtues that young boys everywhere would do well to cultivate: power, strength, and perseverence.
The Festival is replete with treats, from the sweet kashiwa-mochi to the more substantial chimaki to the thoroughly adult Shobu-Sake, Sake spiced up with the exciting sword-shaped Shobu leaf.
Though the center of this celebration of boyhood is of course in Japan, the Festival has been spreading beyond the shores of that island, and you may even encounter Americans celebrating this holiday in their own way tonight. So if you chance upon people celebrating with drink, gay banners, and bits of foreign language in your local tavern tonight, raise your glass, and join them with a toast to young Boys!