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Saturday, May 06, 2006

May 5th Prayer

"Formosa Musings" by Lillian, writing from Tokyo, Japan

Happy Children's Day

In Japan, May 5 was traditionally called Tango no Sekku and was a festival for boys. Girls have their own festival, called Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival), held on every March 3rd. Nowadays, May 5 has become Japanese Chidren's day, when families celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of children, not only boys, but also girls.

On Children's Day, families with boys fly huge carp-shaped streamers (koinobori) outside the house and display dolls of famous warriors and other heroes inside. The carp was chosen because it symbolizes strength and success; according to a Chinese legend, a carp swam upstream to become a dragon.

Usually, there are two big ones, black for father, red for mother, and a small one for kids. If there is more than one small carp, then the number will be the same as the number of boys in that family. Recently, there are some carp-shaped streamers for girls, too.

Here are some cute little ones I photoed, which can be decorated inside the house.

The tiny dolls in the middle of the second picture and the light blue colored headpiece shaped paper folding craft in the third picture are the other mentioned representative for Japanese Children's day, invokes God to protect the children and wish them to become brave and just men, with the Japanese samurai spirits.

Unhappy Facts

It is nice to have Children's day to celebrate; however, it is cruel to know that even though Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, the crime rate of killing children in Japan is still rising.

June 8th, 2001, seven girls and one boy were killed in an elementary school in Osaka. The girls were second-grade students and the boy was first-grade. There were 13 more students and two teachers injured by the crazy killer.

The names of the seven girls were called out on the graduation ceremony of that elementary school on this March 15, for their names were always on the roll during these years. I believe their family, friends and teachers would be proud of them but it would be really nice if they were really there.

Because of this atrocious crime, the whole Japanese society attached more importance to children, protecting and providing a more secure living environment for them. Unfortunately, there were still young beautiful lives taken away by cold-blooded murderers, in brutal ways.

November 19, 2004, a seven-year-old girl was forcibly drowned to death in Nara.

November 22, 2005, a seven-year-old girl was strapped to death, placed into a cardboard case and abandoned on the street in Hiroshima.

December 2nd, 2005, only ten days after the last, another seven-year-old girl was killed by knife and abandoned in woods.

February 21, 2006, two kindergarden kids were stabbed to death by another kid's mother and abandoned in the gutter nearby in Shiga.

March 20, 2006, a nine-year-old boy was thrown to the ground from the 15th floor and died.

All of these happened during the two years I have stayed in Japan. Living here makes this kind of news become so real and much more painful to me. I hated seeing a long, organized outcome list when I typed "children being killed" to search for the accurate date and place. I also don't like myself when I realise that all I can do is cry for and bewail them, but little else. Posting this on a holiday, which should be a happy event, is to remind myself never to forget this pain and someday when I can do something, I will and must do it immediately, without any doubt.

Let The Candlelight Remain Emblazed until the Day it Becomes Stronger

Before the little princess cheered for the starting of the Disney show, she was kissing her daddy. I even forgot to take my camera out from my bag, but just smiled and looked at the sweet angel and her beloved king.

And before the mothers of two boys called their names and went away seperately, they were sharing a small space and playing together so naturally. There was no racial difference and no ridiculous antagonism towards each other.

Children have the purest love, but fragile lives, like the candlelight, warm but easy to be put out, because they don't know that those who were also children once could become dangerous and harmful. It is so sad that we have to tell them not to trust any strangers (or even non-strangers) and teach them to arm their hearts. Children often remind me how to love, but I have to tell them to hide and shut away?

This is another photo I took recently. It was a sunny day in the beginning of April. I imagined he was going to a family member's school beginning ceremony to give his blessing, or possibly he is the one who just became a freshman and got the celebrating bouquet! No matter whether it's my first guess or the second, I saw hope from this young gentleman, who seemed to be considering something seriously and held the flowers so carefully. The brightness reflected on his face is like the brilliant rays he is going to shine in the future.

The boy who died in the crime five years ago in Osaka "will have" his graduation ceremony next year. I truly hope that every child in this world can grow up without fear and happily attend every graduation, meet his/her every school beginning.

And I pray, for their pure hearts to stay pure, and the candlelight remain emblazed until it becomes stronger, until it can tenderly guard the coming candlelight.

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