Arriving at Papay airport early the other day, I went over to watch the windsock. Every now and then it would tilt down and I could see the sky through its funnel, it felt like a conversation. As I stood there trying to understand what the windsock was saying, I was unaware of the centuries old connection between windsocks, Japanese culture and carp. Just days before thousands of carp windsocks were flying all over Japan.
‘Koinobori, carp windsocks, streamers or banners, decorate the landscape of Japan from April through early May, in honor of Children’s Day on May 5.
In Japanese culture, the carp symbolises courage and strength because of its ability to swim up a waterfall.
Originally (possibly 17thC)the event was known as the Boys’ Festival, when Koinobori expressed the hope that each boy in the family would grow up healthy and strong like wild carps. During this festival, people set up a warrior doll or a yoroi armor set in the house, and Koinobori outside the house’.
Image from International Folk Museum
But what was the windsock saying? Windsocks orient themselves against the wind billowing out in the opposite direction. An east wind will blow the windsock west. Depending on the speed of the wind, some parts or all of the windsock will be lifted. So what was being said that day? Well the wind must have been around 17mph and coming from the west.