Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Hinamatsuri is the Japanese Doll's Festival and it's celebrated on 3rd March. It's really a day to celebrate and pray for girls growth and happiness. Families with girls put out beautiful displays of dolls, which are all arranged in a very specific way. Basically they portray the Emperor and Empress and all of their court. There's plenty of information on precise way the dolls are laid out on the Hinamatsuri Wikipedia page.

Last week, I went to two seperate events to celebrate Hinamatsuri, and had a really good time at both of them.

Firstly, my Japanese tutor took me to Akiu, a hot springs town about 15km away, where there was a display of different kinds of dolls and related things.

The traditional layout of a hinamatsuri display.

I can't remember the name of this instrument, but you played it kind of like a sideways harp.

There were lots of dolls made by local children. かわいいね?

All these were hand-made decorations, Each different thing has a different meaning.

For example, the prawn is a symbol of old age, because it is bent over like a very old person. You make one to add to your decoration to say that you hope you get so old that you are bent over like a prawn. Each to their own. Satisifyingly, though, I looked up the kanji for prawn(海老), and it means old person of the sea. It's things like this that make me love kanji (just don't get me started on the things that make me hate them).

I don't know what this symbolises. It's cute though.

My Japanese tutor (at the back) insisted on dressing me and Chou, another student, up like dolls. Aren't we beautiful?!

Cute children's puzzle
[Another photo that won't rotate (anyone else having this problem with random photos on blogger? Or anyone who can tell me how to fix it?)]

This is why I am scared of hiking in Japan. 

Crane. The random blobs on the same tree are mochi, a Japanese rice cake. They are apparently made and then cooked over the Dontosai bonfire, then used to decorate things for hinamatsuri. It's apparently supposed to bring good luck.

Allegedly the fire at the bottom has been burning for 1500 years. Dubious, but I still wouldn't want to go anywhere near it with a cup of water. 

A traditional display of hinamatsuri dolls.

Then, the following weekend, I went to an event at the Sendai International Centre, to celebrate Hinamatsuri. A ¥300 ticket bought you 3 activities. Aside from the three I did (below), there was trying on kimonos and flower arranging.

Being me, I loved the origami the most. Isn't it pretty? I might have bought another ticket so I could make one of these to send to Mum too. And so I could teach myself properly how to make them. Hopefully I'll share the pattern with you all in my next post.

You could also participate in a (semi) traditional tea ceremony. I'm pretty sure traditionally you don't sit at a plastic chair and table and have the hot water dispensed out of a kettle, but they did make me mix everything in a very specific way, and eat my little cake in a certain way. Plus it was tasty so I'm not complaining! 

I also tried to do some calligraphy. The lady running this was a bit bossy and precise, and got stressed at me getting it perfect. They're quite pretty though! The one on the left means love, and the other means beauty.

That concludes my fun Hinamatsuri times. A festival all about women and crafts is right up my street. Thanks, Japan! 

Oh, and since it's February 22nd and this post is all about girls...HAPPY THINKING DAY to all the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts out there! 

Also, on a totally random note, I learned from Rurousha that today is Cat Day in Japan. Love it. 


  1. Cat day, doll day, Pocky Day ... non-stop fun. (Do you know Pocky Day? Named after the stick-like chocolate, and celebrated on 11/11. ^^)

    Whoever selected your outfit chose the perfect colours, cool green and orange-red, for you. Or was it sheer coincidence?

  2. I heard about Pocky day from this post on tofugu which still makes me laugh! I just missed it last year, but I will be celebrating in force this year coming! If you could see my cardboard bin you would see just how hard I will celebrate...

    The colours are just what was there! Why are they perfect?

    1. Why? Uh-oh. I can't give you a scientific explanation for my opinion. I just think it looks good! :) A fair complexion can be quite "cool", so it combines well with the cool green, but at the same time the orange-red balances the coolness and complements fair (it looks honey-blonde in the photo) hair. That's probably what I would say if I were writing for a women's magazine. ^^

      PS: Tofugu is a great site, isn't it?

    2. Haha thanks :D

      You don't have to explain it if it's just an opinion, I was worried it was some deep meaning of colours or something! I'm always worried of feeling ignorant when you're around Rurousha!

    3. Oh, no, I'm the ignorant savage from Africa, remember! :D Red is a very important colour in Japan, because it signifies good luck. Green means life and vitality. So definitely a good choice!

  3. Hi! I have been reading your blog and have found your experience to be pretty exciting! I'm thinking of applying for teaching jobs in Japan and would like to know your experience with iTTTi. Do you have a contact email?
    Thanks, Annie

  4. Hi Annie, Via my profile page, you should now be able to email me. Let me know if it doesn't work for some reason. Please feel free to email me and ask me any questions you have :D