This warrior doll, depicting the famous warrior Minamoto no Yoshiie, is part of a Tango no Sekku (Boys' Day; now Kodomo no Hi, Girls' Day) festival set. The samurai sits mounted on a white horse on a black stand. The samurai is dressed in full armor, a red and gold brocaded jacket, and beige silk brocade trousers. The armor is of cardboard painted gold. The hands are wooden and are blue (it is likely that they had another layer that has been chipped off over time). The horse is made of papier-mâché and has trappings of red and gold silk fringe. The warrior carries a black sword in his left hand and wears a helmet with gold wing-like decorations on top. The stand is rectangular, made of wood and painted black; three sides are closed and the back side is open.
Minamoto no Yoshiie (1039-1106) was a legendary warrior from the late Heian Period (794-1185). His military prowess in the Zenkuen War (1051-1063) and in the Gosannen War (late 1080s) earned him the nickname Hachimantaro, the son of Hachiman (the god of war), and he is often seen as a paragon of bushido, the samurai military code. In bushido, both bu (the arts of war) and bun (the arts of peace) are equally valued; Yoshiie is said to have exemplified both traits. Mocked for not knowing the Chinese military classics, Yoshiie studied and became an accomplished poet. In one instance, Yoshiie came across Nakoso-no-seki, the "Nakoso Barrier," which is a naturally occurring barrier in the Tohoku region of Japan. Using a play on words, Yoshiie composed a now-famous poem imploring the wind to not take away the cherry blossoms, conveying a sense of mono-no-aware (wistfulness at the passing of things). Today, Nakoso-no-seki is a popular sakura (cherry blossom) viewing park.
On Kodomo no Hi, families raise a carp-shaped flag, called a koinobori, for each boy or child in the family. Koinobori flags are chosen because when flown in the breeze, they look as if they are swimming upstream, alluding to a Chinese legend that holds that when a carp swims upstream it becomes a dragon. Families may also display samurai dolls and other figures in the home, such as a Kintaro (Golden Boy) doll, typically depicted riding on a giant carp and wearing a kabuto military helmet. Traditional foods on Kodomo no Hi include mochi rice cakes wrapped in Kashiwa (oak) leaves and chimaki (sweet rice paste wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf).