Boy's Day mochi with carp

Boys’ Day (Tango no Sekku) is coming up on May 5th. It’s an originally Japanese holiday, now celebrated over much of Asia.

In more recent years, Girls’ Day and Boy’s Day have been combined into one Children’s Day celebrated on May 5th.

Our local Japanese confectionary shop, Osaka-ya, has been busy preparing the traditional treats to celebrate Boy’s Day.
Kashiwa Mochi

Kashiwa Mochi is pounded sweet rice flour filled with smooth red beans, and wrapped in an oak leaf.

The oak leaves are used to symbolize the strength and celebration of continuing generations, as old oak leaves do not fall off the tree until new shoots are growing.
Uiro- Peony flower mochi

Uiro is a firm mochi filled with sweet lima beans.

These are decorated as spring peony flowers.
Uiro mochi with teacup
The green leaf is cut out of yokan, a sweet thick gelatin made with smooth white beans.

Kahiwa mochi and Uiro mochi cut open

Uiro mochi (front) and Kashiwa mochi (back)

Light lima beans, or dark red beans…which do you prefer?

Kurimi manju and Chofu
(Left) Kurumi manju- a sweet baked bread covered lightly with an egg glaze, surrounding sweet whole red beans (Tsubu-an), topped with a walnut

(Right) Chofu- sweet mochi wrapped in a light fluffy pancake (there’s also one filled with crunchy peanut butter in addition to the mochi)

Rainbow row of mochi

And then Osaka-ya’s standard rotation of rainbow colored mochi: Red (Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jam), Orange (Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chips), Yellow (Cherry Filling), Green (Crunchy Peanut Butter), Turquoise (Smooth Peanut Butter), and Purple (Blueberry Filling).
Rainbow stack of mochi with carp

Koinobori, carp windsocks, are traditionally flown outside homes to wish boys a successful future.

At least three carp are flown, with black on top representing the father, red next representing the mother, and successive green or blue representing any sons.

The significance of carp as described by the Japanese American National Museum:  “The carp has become the symbol of tango no sekku or Boys’ Day because the Japanese consider it the most spirited of fish—so full of energy and power that it can fight its way up swift-running streams and cascades. Because of its strength and determination to overcome all obstacles, it stands for courage and the ability to attain high goals. Since these are traits desired in boys, families traditionally flew koinobori from their homes to honor their sons.”

You can download and print some of these mini carp that I used here. It was really easy and just required some simple cutting and taping.

Variety of mochi cut in half and re-paired

Happy Boys’ Day, Happy Children’s Day!

If you stop by Osaka-ya, make sure to try one of their giant snow cones. It’s been so hot this spring that they started serving the snow cones in March.

2215 10th Street
Sacramento, CA 95812
Mon 9-4
Tu-Fri 9-6
Sat,Sun 9-5
(Starting June 1, open 9-6 daily)