While Children’s Week in Japan is celebrated with koinobori (carp kites), the cultural significance of carp is linked to an older folklore dating back to ancient China, following the trail of the Yellow River in Hunan.
For as much as five hundred years, golden carp have been said to swim upstream, fighting the river’s current to reach the very edge of a fabled waterfall – The Dragon Gate. The carp will often be set back as they climb against the downward flow, jumping for centuries until their courage and persistence pays off. The brave carp must pass the very top of the waterfall to transform into a great dragon.
The story is tale of diligence and ambition, one to signify that hard work will give its due so long as you have the drive to keep at it. In modern custom it’s seen as symbol of inner strength, and during children’s week, the kites are a wellwish to offer all children the prosperity of the golden carp.