Feb 29, 2012

Hina Dolls Displayed Until March 20 in Kakunodate

Hina Matsuri, the Japanese doll festival will be celebrated on March 3. As it is approaching, the dolls have been displayed in family homes and businesses around town – in Kakunodate, you can see various types of hina dolls from different regions and eras only in one day!

The ornamental dolls represent a scene of an emperor’s and are displayed for girls in a family. The tradition is said to have a thousand-year old history since the Heian era.

Kakunodate has served as an important castle town for many centuries. The dolls found here uniquely reflect the owner’s family history. Some traditional merchants may preserve dolls that have been passed down over generations.

Kakunodate Hina Meguri is a tourism campaign by Kakunodate Tourism Association. Many such traditional businesses are encouraged to display their collections so the beauty of the dolls is shared with the visitors to town.

Ando Jozo, a brewery of soy sauce and miso in Kakunodate, is a family-owned merchant established in mid-1800. The family has handed down such beautiful hina dolls over the generations.

Several different sets are on display inside the brick and wooden structure that was built in the Meiji era, which has been designated as Kakunodate Town’s historic site.

Another impressive display can be found at Tatetsuya, a souvenir shop near the post office. This family is also one of oldest in town and passes down gorgeous dolls. You can find 3-dimensional as well as 2-dimensional ones of a technique known as “Oshie,” or pressed picture.

The other side of town known as Nakamachi (“inner town”) is where families of higher class have resided traditionally. So, you can imagine other kinds of dolls are found there.

Hina Dolls at Tatetsuya

Take this unique shop, Neko no Mise Namekawa (猫の店 滑川).

Yes, that’s right – this is a special store for cat-related goods! At this small shop, you can find many hand-made goods with cute kitties :) This is a place you must stop – You will find something special even if you were not a cat lover!

Namekawa also shares with you their beautiful hina dolls! They are quite interesting – the pieces were collected individually over different eras. The owner, while working with her needles, said “I didn’t really know about our dolls until a few years ago when this Hina Meguri campaign began. Some knowledgeable tourists gave me some hints – then I started to learn about them little by little.”

“A lady once pointed out that the byobu screen with Mt.Fuji painted is actually rare. We figured out that it derives from the Taisho era, when Japan was proceeding on a war footing. It represents the patriotism of that time” says the lady.

Some uncommon pieces related to Japanese folklores such as Shitakiri Suzume and Urashima Taro (left and right in photo below) – those are also considered to be from the same era as well.

Hina dolls collection at Neko no mise Namekawa

The festival will be celebrated nationwide over the weekend, but the display campaign will continue until March 20th. When you come to Semboku City, make sure you stop at places to see the dolls!

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