Raising spirits: Floating koinobori decorate sky in observance of Children’s Day

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Koinoburi fly in the wind on the bridge to Mokuola in Hilo on Monday, April 26, 2021. The koinoburi celebrate Children’s Day, a Japanese holiday that commemorates children’s happiness and personalities.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald People walk across the bridge to Mokuola past the flying koinoburi in Hilo on Monday, April 26, 2021. The koinoburi celebrate Children’s Day, a Japanese holiday that commemorates children’s happiness and personalities.

Hundreds of koinobori float through the air at Lili‘uokalani Gardens in Hilo to celebrate the upcoming Japanese holiday of Children’s Day.

Children’s Day, still popularly known as Boys’ Day, is observed each year on May 5 and is a holiday celebrating children’s personalities and happiness.

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Traditionally, families raise koinobori, which are carp-shaped windsocks that look like they’re swimming when they blow in the wind. The carp is representative of the Chinese legend that a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon and flies to heaven.

Organizations and families throughout East Hawaii have donated koinobori for the annual display, which stretches from Suisan Fish Market to Ponds Restaurant. The major part of the collection decorates the bridge to Mokuola, or Coconut Island.

This year, the Keliipio family added Na Welo Lau Lama, which are two shark kites that represent the family’s aumakua and the guardian of Kuhio Bay.

“We started this tradition about six years ago with about 35 koinobori that flew across the park,” said K.T. Cannon-Egar. “Since the tradition began, we’ve been able to add more fish each year.”

Although there is usually a public celebration, the floating, colorful koinobori will be the only activity to commemorate the holiday. They will be on display for families to view on their own time until Thursday, May 6.

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“Being able to put something colorful and positive up in the park can raise spirits and give park patrons something uplifting to look at,” Cannon-Egar said. “The koinobori remind us to look to our children and celebrate them, and it’s great we could do that again this year.”

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com.