In Japan, Children’s Day takes place on May 5. A month prior to that, families would decorate their households with koinobori – carp-shaped wind socks made of paper or fabric.
These carp streamers are traditionally flown on roof tops to celebrate the event known as Tango no Sekku, in honour of sons (and daughters?) in the hope that they will grow up healthy and strong. The biggest koinobori represents the father; the medium and small-sized carps speak for the mother and child.
Meimoirs is no stranger to symbols of the koinobori – her father, who was an exporter of Japanese carps known as koi, found the cloth ‘kites’ amusing and used to have them strewn across the house. Only recently did she find out what the fish was all about, and wished that she had kept one or two in remembrance of her father, and a childhood she still thinks about from time to time.
Spirited Away is one of Meimoirs’ favourite films. The 2001 Oscar-winning Japanese anime draws its inspiration from an Alice in Wonderland-like world of whimsiness, introducing us to countless multi-faceted characters.
In one of the scenes, the susuwatari returns for a cameo – the tiny, black critters first appeared in My Neighbour Totoro and were known as dust bunnies or soot sprites. The name “susuwatari” literally means “travelling soot”.
They exist on petite rainbow-hued Japanese sweets called kompeito, a type of thank-you-for-coming gift by the Imperial House of Japan.