It is time for carp-shaped streamers…
The colourful festival at the old town of Kameido (亀戸下町鯉幟祭り)
Very often Japan stands for an “aging society”, the prime example when it comes to demographic change. But there are – of course – “also” children! And if you look around in the city, you may get the impression that there have never been more children than now. However, here is not the place – and surely not the time – to challene any statistics, especially not the ones one hadn’t had a chance to manipulate…
But one fact stands: Japan has a dedicated national holiday for the children, its “kodomo no hi” (子どもの日 / こどものひ) that is being celebrated every year on the 5th of May (first day of the horse in the month of May). That is also the reason why this holiday was – until shortly after World War II – called “tango no sekku” (端午の節句 / たんごのせっく) and was celebrated as a day solely dedicated to male children. Only since 1948 the holiday has been “expanded” to both sexes.
One of the beautiful traditions on that day (dating back to the time when it was still just a boys’ day) is the decoration that is applied to houses and streets. It is carp-shaped streamers – the “koi nobori” (鯉幟 / こいのぼり) – that used to adorn every house with children. Carps are deemed a symbol for power and endurance.
In the old days the were strikt regulations for the colours of those streamers made of paper or cloth: There used to be a big, black carp-shaped streamer for the father, a red one for the mother and a blue one for every son (sizes corresponding to the age of the child). Originally, there were no flags for girls – and once the national holiday was “expanded” to include them, there was no colour scheme assigned. Hence, in our days you can see carps in all colours flattering in the wind – mimicing real carps in flowing water.
By now lavishly decorated houses and streets are a rather rare sight in the big city. But there is one street that is particularly gorgeous around the 5th of May for the “Kameido-Downtown-Carp-Shaped Streamer Festival” (亀戸下町鯉幟祭りかめいどしたまちこいのぼりまつり). It is located in Tōkyō’s Kōtō ward’s (江東区 / こうとうく) Kameido district (亀戸 / かめいど), not far from the north exit of Kameido station (亀戸駅 / かめいどえき), between Meiji Dōri (明治通り / めいじどおり) and the railroad crossing of the Tōbu Kameido line (東武亀戸線 / とうぶかめいどせん). It stretches over a length of 600 metres of the most colourful streamers.
How to get there:
The easiest and fasted way is by taking one of the trains of the JR Sōbu line (JR総武線 / JRそうぶせん) from the central parts of Tōkyō heading east for Kameido station (亀戸駅 / かめいどえき), and, as mentioned above, taking the station’s north exit, following the Meiji Dōri (明治通り / めいじどおり) for a few steps in northern direction and then turn right (i.e. east) – for further details please refer to the map below.
At close quarters:
Kameido Tenjin (亀戸天神) (Engl./dt.)
– Home of the “kami” and the “kame”
Kameido Tenjin (亀戸天神) – Ume Matsuri (梅祭り) (Bilder/Pictures)
– Kameido Shrine’s Plum Blossom Festival
Fuji Matsuri (藤花祭) (Engl./dt.)
– Kameido Shrine’s Wisteria Festival