On May 5th, cities and villages throughout hold koinobori (carp-streamers) festivals in celebration of Children’s Day, a day to wish all children happy health. If you’re in the Osaka or Kyoto areas, (Takatsuki is located almost directly in between the two cities being 20 minutes by train either Osaka to Kyoto) and you’re keen to join in on the family fun, Takatsuki hosts a koinobori festa every year, with special drum and dance performances and a mini concert. This festival in particular sees more than 1000 carp-streamers in the sky at Akutagawa Sakurazutumi Park.
Like most koinobori festivals, the carp-streamers are hung above a flowing body of water with tents and street vendors set up along the banks. Intended to be symbolic of the strong-willed nature of the carp to swim upstream and against rough currents (even up waterfalls), the location serves an intentional purpose. Interestingly enough, an old Chinese legend actually sees to it that a carp swims up a waterfall only to become a dragon.
Combined with the carefree and spirited nature of children, koinobori festivals are rich in local culture and excitement, embodying a parent’s hope for their child to achieve success, in whatever form that may be. In the case that you are not a parent, the streamers see plenty of photographers make their way to the river looking for different angles and shots.
There are plenty of food stalls lined up along the river in the park, along with a bouncy castle (or, in this case, bouncy inflated characters), and families set up tents along the grass to enjoy picnics with their friends and family. Amongst the food sold are your festival basics, like popcorn, hot dogs, and shaved ice, as well as traditional Japanese treats that includes mochi and okonomiyaki, all adding to the festive mood of this outdoor matsuri.
To get to Takatsuki from Osaka Station, take the JR Kyoto line bound for Takatsuki. This will take you close to 30 minutes. From Takatsuki station, the walk to Akutagawa Sakurazutumi Park is just 15 minutes.