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TRAVELING IN STYLE : Correspondents' Choice : HOW DO YOU KNOW IT'S SPRING?

March 07, 1993|Teresa Watanabe, Tokyo bureau | Six Times correspondents from around the world identify the harbingers of the season in cities they have covered.

IN JAPAN

JAPAN'S MOST FAMOUS SYMBOL OF SPRING IS CERTAINLY THE DELICATE CHERRY blossoms that suddenly burst forth everywhere in April. But there is another unmistakable signal of the season less familiar to visitors: koinobori --brightly colored banners in the shape of carp.

These mark Children's Day, May 5, and symbolize the hope that youngsters will persevere against life's odds just as the carp fights the current when it swims upstream. Usually flown four or five to a pole, the flags can be seen everywhere in Japan--but the most famous display of koinobori is in the little village of Towa on Shikoku Island, about 450 miles southwest of Tokyo. Here, from April 20 to May 20, villagers hoist about 250 carp flags, in bright colors of red, black, blue and pink, along two 985-foot-long ropes strung across the Shimanto River, a sparkling waterway considered the cleanest in Japan. Deep valleys and mountains provide a graceful backdrop.

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