Another practice is the displaying of a small samurai helmet or Kabuto, usually with a miniature coat of arms or bow and arrows. These are beautifully decorated and housed in a glass case or dsplayed on a stand. Also shown are images of the folktale boy hero Kintaro. Kintaro was the child name of Sakata no Kintoki, a famous real life samurai. According to legend, Kintro’s father was a dragon and the boy lived in remote mountains with his mother. He was extremely strong, rode on a bear and was friend to the animals. In one story, while swimming, he chases and then rides on a gigantic carp. He is always represented as a robust boy with a bowl haircut, naked except for a traditional red bib-like apron. Kintaro, kabuto, and carp are all symbols of strength and vitality. Attributes parents hope their children will posses. Displaying these symbols on Boy’s day goes back to ancient times, but today it is big business. There are specialty shops that sell kabuto and carp steamers as well as other festival goods. They come in all sizes and designs. They are usually quite expensive, costing hundreds of dollars.
Various mochi rice cake dishes are traditionally served on this day. Kashiwa-mochi are rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste and served wrapped in oak leaves. Chimaki are a slightly different kind of mochi served wrapped in bamboo leaves.