Monday, May 6, 2013

Children's Day

As I mentioned in a previous post, Y has had 10 straight days of holidays this Golden Week - a series of public holidays to give the good people of Japan a much needed break from work. Yesterday was "Children's Day." It is a day where we celebrate the health, growth, strength and happiness of children. There is a tad bit of a focus on boys on this day; as we have a day dedicated to girls in March, this is the boys' time to shine!

Two main symbols for the day are samurai and koi nobori (flags of fish). Both of these symbols are meant for boys only. Many families with boys have a samurai, or just a samurai hat, as well as a set of fish flags that are displayed during the month. When K was born, Y's parents sent us Y's old samurai set up to diplay for a few weeks in late April/early May. We were pretty slow to set it up, but got it all done a few days ago.

 Y and I set it up while K was asleep and when he woke up in the morning it was quite a surprise. For some reason, he didn't remember it from last year and asked a lot of questions about it - many for which I had no answer!

We have Y's old set of flags as well, and while they are set up on our balcony, I failed to get a good photo of them. I did, however, remember to take a photo of the fish flags that are set up for our condo while K was outside playing before dinner tonight.

To celebrate Children's Day, we decided to do something that K would like. If there is one thing this kid loves, it's a picnic in the park. He particularly likes it when I make him his own bento, instead of one big one for the whole family. Yesterday morning, I got to work on making him a Children's Day themed bento - a tiny samurai onigiri and a set of koi nobori sausages. I wasn't sure if he would like the whole "chara-ben" (character-themed bento), but he ended up being pretty stoked on it.

After lunch, he played soccer with Y, we looked at the boats on the pond and then we went to the playground - his most favorite spot in the park. It was packed full of kids, apparently we weren't the only ones with this brilliant idea, but he found plenty of room to play.

He even got a few rides on the bouncy boats. It was super hot yesterday, but we stayed playing in that area for hours. He had such a wonderful time.

On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store to get a few things so that I could make K a nice Children's Day dessert.
It was so hot, however, that before even making it home he begged and begged to stop for an ice cream from the convenience store. As it was Children's Day, and to be honest, ice cream sounded delicious, we stopped and got a treat for each of us. Then we got home, ate our ice cream and gave the little guy his shower - he was filthy. While he was playing in there, I got cracking on his cake.

I, of course, would have liked to do this cake up from scratch, as per usual, but with Sunday's party preparations, I have been really busy and didn't have time. Instead, I bought a roll cake and some whipped cream (we already had the strawberries). First I spread whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake.

Then I sliced up about a million teeny strawberries and carefully placed them on the cake for the fish's scales.

Finally I cut a strawberry round and sliced off the end of a green grape for the fish's eye. Although his expression looks pained, K seemed stoked on it when he was out of the shower.

After dinner, we watched a DVD Y's mom had made of photos from K's second year of life and ate cake - the perfect ending to a lovely day! K particularly liked the strawberries; he didn't care much for the cake, but I shouldn't have been too surprised. In hindsight, I should have just given him a bowl of strawberries and called it a night!

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