Okinawa Lunar Calendar, 5th month 4th day: ユッカヌヒー

On the 5th month 4th day of the lunar year is a day known as yukkanuhi ユッカヌヒー, meaning “4th day” in Okinawan language. It is to pray for good luck in fishing and maritime activities and a celebration day with traditional haarii ハーリー (dragon boat) races. This usually close to the end of the rainy season here in Okinawa. This year (2017) it will be Monday May 29th. Although I am supposed to go to work that day, I would really like to go watch the haarii…

On the 5th day of the 5th month, known as gungwachi gunichi グングヮチグニチ (五月五日, meaning “5th month 5th day” in Okinawan language), is Boy’s Day, also known as Children’s Day in the Japanese calendar (orginally “tengu no sekku” 端午の節句).

It is traditional to serve popo ぽーぽー and chinpin ちんぴん on these 2 days; it is also placed on the ancestors altar or the hinukan as an offering to pray for good health and prosperity of boys/children/family, as well as for ocean safety and good catches for fishermen.

It is also traditional to place irises (shoubu 菖蒲) and another type of sweet dish called amagashi アマガシ (or あまがし) on the altar or hinukan during these days in Okinawa.

Amagashi is sort of like a mix between amazake 甘酒 and zenzai ぜんざい; red beans mixed with rolled oats (wheat or barley), mung beans, rice koji, and brown sugar (it ferments for 2-3 days after making it). It used to be eaten with the leaves of the irises, but I have my doubts that it is common any more. It is possible to find pre-made in the local grocery stores, next to the zenzai cans and packages. It can be made with either Japanese azuki beans or red kidney beans, though the red kidney beans are actually more common due to the American influence after WW2, making them cheap and accessible.



Children’s Day & Chimaki

こどもの日 kodomo-no-hi is Children’s Day, a public holiday in Japan celebrated on May 5th. There are many events, especially for families and children going on during this time. Many places in Okinawa give free or discounted admission to various attractions, such as the aquarium, museums, the zoo, boat tours, and gardens. People will fly koinobori 鯉のぼり, carp flags, all around the towns– it is such a nice site to see. Originally it was Boys’ Day, Tango no Sekku 端午の節句, but has been changed to celebrate the happiness and health of all children. People still celebrate Boys’ Day in conjunction, though; you will see samurai armor on display, similar to seeing the doll displays during Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day).

ちまき chimaki is a type of rice “dumpling.” This type of chimaki is a sweet and sticky rice dumpling with kudzu 葛 (arrowroot) wrapped in bamboo leaves. Chimaki is connected to Kyoto culture (it is Kyogashi 京菓子, traditional Japanese sweet made particularly in Kyoto), but originally is said to come from China. It is so fragrant and soft, so tasty! It is a popular treat for Children’s Day. I was able to find some at the Japanese confectionary at the SanA mall near me, so obviously I was tempted into buying some.

address for Japanese confectionary Hanafuu 花風: