Sunday, April 26, 2015

Koinobori

Yesterday, Saturday, we saw these Koinobori sets in a local store when we went shopping. The Koinobori, is something very special in the Japanese culture.

The word Koinobori means "carp streamer" in Japanese, and these are flown everywhere in the end of April, beginning of May to celebrate "Children's Day" on May 5th. It's the end of the "Golden Week" here, and that's a national holiday, where most locals have off work, schools are off, and many businesses close down.


A typical koinobori set consists of, from the top of the pole down, a pair of arrow-spoked wheels with a ball-shaped spinning vane, flying-dragon streamer that looks like a windsock.

The number and meaning of the carp socks or koinobori that fly beneath the streamer has changed over time. Traditionally, the set would contain a black koinobori representing the father, followed by a smaller, red koinobori representing his eldest son.  If more boys were in the household, an additional blue, green and then, depending on the region, either purple or orange koinobori were added. After the government's decree that converted Boy's Day (Tango no Sekku) into the present Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi), the holiday came to celebrate the happiness of both boys and girls. 

As a result, the red koinobori came to represent the mother of the family and it is not uncommon for the color to be varied as pink. Similarly, the other colors and sizes of carp came to represent all the family's children, both sons and daughters. At present, the koinoburi are commonly flown above the roofs of houses with children, with the biggest (black) koinobori for the father, next biggest (red or pink) for the mother, and an additional, smaller carp of a different color for each child in decreasing order by age.

 Cassie holding up a traditional koinobori set.

After looking into the koinobori tradition, it was great to see today, on an afternoon walk I took with Cassie, that the koinobori were hung and flying in the wind over the Tengan river, just outside the base where we live. There were more than we could count, and I don't even know where they had stopped hanging them. As far as we could see along the river, there were colorful koinoboris flying in the wind! So beautiful, and I wish that I would have known to take my camera, but atleast the camera phone is better than nothing! Will try to go back before they are taken down with all children to take some nice pictures for Children's Day!

Hundreds and hundreds of koinoboris over the Tengan River, 
here beautifully mirrored in the water!






 From right to left: The colorful dragon streamer, 
followed by the black koinobori (father symbol) and the red koinobori (mother symbol)


Friday, April 24, 2015

Courtney Beach - Corals & Caves


Last Saturday, we had promised the little kids to take them to the beach. Cassie wasn't at home all weekend, as she was invited to a birthday camp out on another beach here on the island, where a 13 year old friend had invited a few friends to stay in a camper (under supervision of the birthday girl's mother). She was picked up Friday afternoon, and we went to get her on Sunday. They had so much fun, I have to see if I'm allowed to post some of their pictures here to show you in another later post.

Anyway, we only had a few hours to spend, as Chris had to go to a work function in the afternoon to a birthday party. Therefore, we couldn't drive too far, and decided to go to the Uken Beach, that is not far from home, a local beach here outside of the base. But, when we came there, the beach was closed off, and we had to turn around. Not having much time, we decided to go to the our beach right here on the Courtney base where we live. We hadn't been before, and now was the time. I hadn't heard much about it, and the weather wasn't the best, overcast with chance of rain, but we went for it.

The beach itself was beautiful, soft sand with carved out caves and coral formations all over. The sand was here and there covered - c.o.v.e.r.e.d - with small corals and washed up sea shells, sea glass and bigger corals. Beautiful!

It wasn't the perfect beach to take the kids swimming, as it was no clear sandy area for them to walk out in due to the coral reefs outside, but it was still a great beach to play on and to explore.



The kids were so excited to try out their new sand toys, and couldn't wait to start digging.

It didn't take long until Isabella came up to me with her first shells she wanted to keep!


Writing in the sand is always fun!


There were a lot of these concrete blocks here on the side, to keep away the waves during typhoon season!






This time we  brought buckets!












So many caves to explore!









 Found a crab skeleton on the way home.


Even if there was no sunshine or any swimming involved, we still had a great time! Considering that this beach is only 10 minutes from our home, we will be back soon!