This set of two miniature swords (a katana and a shoto) and sword stand is part of a Tango no Sekku (Boys' Day; now Kodomo no Hi, Children's Day) festival set. The longer sword (katana) is positioned on the top rack, while the shoto (shorter sword) is on the bottom. Both swords have black lacquer sheaths and metal blades. The katana has a brass metal tip. Its sheath has metal decorative fixtures and a gold and red painted dragon design. There is also a handle of green and white silk cord with large tassels attached to the sheath. The handle is wrapped in gray cord and has a metal tip. The shoto has a metal tip on the sheath and features the gomaisasa (five bamboo leaves) mon (crest). The handle is ivory plastic (to resemble ray skin), with a metal emblem of a dragon. There is an orange cord wrapped around the sheath. The stand is black lacquer with a rough red, raised design on the front faces.
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).
A katana is a long sword that is over two shaku long. A shaku, the traditional unit of measurement for Japanese swords, is equivalent to about a foot, though it was longer before 1891. A short sword, or shoto, is between one and two shaku long.
A mon (also known as a ka-mon) is a Japanese family crest. Similar to coats of arms in the European tradition, a mon identifies a specific individual, family, or group/guild. Mon are usually found decorating clothing, armor, weapons, roof tiles, fans, passports, and even food labels.