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Today, you’re sure to see fish flying high in the Hawaiian skies…for Boys’ Day, that is. Forget the “hook, line and sink ‘em” technique; these buggers don’t require too much effort to catch. They’re windsocks that “swim” in the cool trade winds above many local homes and businesses in celebration of the Japanese holiday that’s traveled overseas to our islands.
Look for these today as Hawaii celebrates Boys’ Day.
In Japan nowadays, it’s actually known as Children’s Day, but in Hawaii, we’re sticking to having two separate days for both genders: Girls’ Day (March 3) and Boys’ Day (May 5). The floating fish, however, can be seen in both Japan and Hawaii. It’s called a koinobori, which means “carp streamer” in Japanese. Carp of different sizes (from a few inches to a few meters long) and colors are posted up on a bamboo pole to represent each male in the family. The largest one located at the very top is usually the father, while the carp below are placed in order of eldest to youngest in the household. Sometimes, mothers are represented in the line up of fish as well.
Carps symbolize masculinity, strength and perseverance in Japanese culture – traits that every parent hopes their son will grow up to acquire. This freshwater fish in particular is known for its ability to swim against currents easily and scale waterfalls, so it’s somewhat of a super fish.
You don’t have to be Japanese to celebrate holidays like Girls’ and Boys’ Day. In Hawaii, every holiday is multi-cultural and is enjoyed and appreciated by everyone, as cultures mix and mingle all the time. You can probably even find a cute replica of a koinobori at some of the local shops in many sizes. So you’re sure to find one that fits in your suitcase or carry-on!