March 3, 2010
Today is Hina Matsuri (雛祭り) in Japan. It's sometimes called the Doll Festival in English. It is a day to wish good health and happiness for young girls.
Traditionally, the young girl's maternal grandparents would send this Hina Doll set in hopes that no bad things will happen. The doll set can have as many as 10 steps, decorated with many dolls, such as the Emperor and Empress, court ladies, and musicians. But as many people live in apartments that don't have as much space, smaller versions of the doll set are also popular.
Tokorozawa is actually very famous for their Hina Dolls. The history of Hina Doll craftsmanship in Tokorozawa can be found from over 160 years ago.
I talked to the nice lady at Shugetsu Kodera Ningyo, one of the Hina Doll shops near Tokorozawa station, and she told me that although many places have closed down from a lack of successor, there are still many Hina Doll shops around Tokorozawa.
This headless doll seems a little scary, but actually at this shop, they specialize in making the body of the dolls. The lady told me they order the heads from a different craft center.
Everything is handmade and very beautiful. You can even have them use your own Obi, a thick belt to wrap around a kimono, to make you an original doll!
I hope young girls all over Japan are enjoying the Doll Festival today!