Category Archives: Crafts

Award Winning, Intangible Asset “Suneori Amagoi”, Rain Praying Festival | TSURUGASHIMA

The Suneori Amagoi Rain Praying Festival, which started in 1781, has been awarded a number of cultural and festival accolades. The awards include the prestigious and coveted city designated intangible folk cultural asset and equally distinguished grand prize for the best hometown events, both awarded by the Japanese Government. In recent years, the festival is only conducted once every four years due to a decline in the number of farmers. The next one is this coming Sunday August 7th 2016 from 1 pm and will be carried out regardless of weather conditions.

 

Suneoriamagoi, From the Tsurugashima City Official Website


The festival involves 300 men carrying a 36 metre long 3 ton giant dragon God made of bamboo and straw 2 kilometres to a lake in Tsurugashima’s Kandachiga pond, where the ritual for rain is conducted. The 300 dragon bearers wear traditional Japanese happi coats. The dragon is made from scratch for each festival, as at the end of the rain ritual in the pond, the dragon is destroyed to incite the God’s anger to evoke thunderstorms, hence rain. You can read more about the history and meaning of this unique festival in detail, in English, on the Tsurugashima City website. The Saitama Tourism website, Sai-no-kuni Kanko, anticipates 30,000 people will attend this coming Sunday.  Coinciding with this rare and fascinating festival is an International Exchange Fair at Wakaba Station, the station you use to get to Suneori Amagoi Festival, from 10 am to 8 pm on Sunday.

From the official Saitama Prefecture Tourism website http://www.sainokuni-kanko.jp/eng/
From the official Saitama Prefecture Tourism website http://www.sainokuni-kanko.jp/eng/

 

Suneori Amagoi Festival Information

Time: 1 pm to 5 pm
Where: Area from Shirahige Shrine to Kandachiga Pond, Tsurugashima City, Saitama
Access: Approximately 43 minutes from Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo. 15 minute walk from Tobu Tojo Line Wakaba Station. See maps and access photos below

If you can’t make the festival this year, don’t worry – you can watch it live on http://www.ustream.tv/channnel/tsurugashimacity-tv

The next festival after August 7th 2016 will luckily coincide with the 2020 Olympics. The festival is usually held on the 1st Sunday of August, but due to the olympics there maybe changes. I will update nearer the time. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Golf Events are being held at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in the nearby city of Kawagoe. If golf contestants or spectators want to enjoy a quintessential yet extraordinary Japanese festival this is one to bookmark for your trip to Japan. More on Golf In Saitama: Golf in Japan :: Courses in Saitama

If you understand Japanese, here is a video about the festival and its background. Below that is a nice piece with English subtitles.





ACCESS

Access guide to Tsurugashima from the Tsurugashima Official Website:

From the official Tsurugashima website

On Google Maps

 

insaitama.com is a non-profit blog. I write to share information with foreigners that don’t read Japanese and might not otherwise know all the great things Saitama prefecture has to offer. I respectfully ask that if you are using or sharing this information, that you please quote the source. Thank you. The adverts that appear on these posts are placed in the hope that one day they might cover the cost of self-hosting a website, but they currently do not generate revenue.

Experience Asakusa

Information Share

“Where can I try some unique Japanese cultural experiences in Tokyo?”

We often get asked a variation of “where can I enjoy some real Japanese experiences in Tokyo?” on the Facebook Japan Travel, Friendly Discussion Group. Unfortunately, the search field and files section of Facebook Groups is still somewhat limited and the information cannot be easily found.  I’m sharing suggestions here, that I have given, in the hope that it is more easily accessible for future queries of a similar nature. These places advertise that they have English speaking staff.

This is for the Asakusa area only. If you would like to share other places for the benefit of others,  that would be greatly appreciated. 🙂  Please scroll down to the bottom of the article to see each place mapped on Google with address and other information.

Disclaimer: I have NO affiliation to any of these establishments, nor do I get anything for promoting them! All images are taken from the official websites for each shop or service.

Taiko Drums

Image taken from the official website: http://www.taiko-center.co.jp/english/class/images/tokyo/tokyo-class_03.jpg

The traditional drum in Japan is called a Taiko.  For many the sound of a taiko drum is synonmous with summer festivals.  The Taiko Lab in Asakusa offers a rare chance to experience Taiko drums without signing up for months of classes.  You need to book in advance and they will try to cater to the date and time that suits you best. The application for this is handled by the Taiko Centre (English information): http://www.taiko-center.co.jp/english/class/tokyo-class.html

Information about Taiko Labhttp://www.taiko-center.com/taiko-lab%E3%81%AE%E3%81%94%E6%A1%88%E5%86%85/ Choose the English option from the drop-down box on the right.

Kanji

Kanji is the Japanese writing using Chinese characters.  At Kanji House in Asakusa you can get your name written for you, or join a class, or even take a guided tour. The tour involves a local guide and a kanji calligraphy writing of your name to take home! They have staff and guides who speak English  and most of their clients are foreigners.

Image taken from the official website: http://kanji-house.com/assets/images/top3.png

If you want to try your hand at writing a kanji of your choice you can do a calligraphy class for 30 minutes.  They do require that you make  a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. They have full information in English on their website: http://kanji-house.com/service_price.html  and the reservation form is here: http://kanji-house.com/contact.html

Origami

The age old and majestic paper folding craft is a fun (and therapeutic) activity, offering a glimpse into the Japanese custom of precision and detail.  The afore mentioned Kanji House also offers an origami class for just 500 yen (summer 2016 price) for 30 minutes. Information available in English on their website: http://kanji-house.com/service_price.html . Reservation form: http://kanji-house.com/contact.html

Dressing up in Kimono

Dressing up in a kimono is something unique to Japanese culture. Kosode near to Asakusa subway station offer kimono rental, dressing and hair styling for both men and women. They have yukata (summer kimono) in the hot months too. They have information and a booking form in English on their website: http://paull.jp/asakusa/english/index.php

Moku Hanga Print

Moku Hanga is a technique used in ukiyo-e, a genre of art. Mokuhankan is a relatively new shop offering woodblock prints. The owner is a England born Canadian. You can experience his tutelage in an hour long workshop. You can book from a calendar on their English content website: http://mokuhankan.com/parties/index.php

Replica Food Production Workshop

Showroom of Replica Food made from wax

Replica Food are wax samples of what a restaurant’s (/shop’s) food looks like, displayed in the restaurants window. Ganso Shokuhin Sample Shop Kappabashi Showroom displays a great selection of replica food. Even better: you can book to try your hand at making your own replica food samples. Information in English on their website: http://www.ganso-sample.com/en/shop/kappabashi/

However, you need to book for the workshop by phone at 0120-17-1839.  The workshops are held at 11am, 2pm and 4pm and take between 60 and 75 minutes. It costs 2,160 yen per person (summer 2016 price).

Jidaiya

Jidaiya is a fantastic service offering a range of typical and age old Japanese experiences. Here is a list of some of them;

Rickshaw Ride

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Kago (basket palanquin) Ride

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Tea Ceremony

Paper Lantern making

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Fan Throwing Game

Photo taken from the official website: http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono0

Japanese Traditional Entertainment and Performances

Information for all of these can be found on their English webpage:

http://www.jidaiya.biz/taikenmono_e.html#taikenmono2

 

All of the places listed above are perfect, if you want to try some real hands-on experiences during your stay in Japan.  Most of these places advise booking in advance.  Below you can see the locations of each place marked on a google map.

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Edo period Candy craft in Kawagoe

4-Candy craft (2)

Today, we went to watch the Candy Man in Kawagoe! He is a performance artist, who sculpts candy into different shapes, characters and forms, in an art form known as Amezaiku, in Japan. Above you can see a unicorn made out of candy.

Sculpting candy in art
Sculpting candy in to art, Amezaiku, candy craft artist Suzuki

The Candy Man Suzuki, one of only a few traditional candy folk artists practising regularly in Japan, performs in the Sweet Street (or Candy Alley) of Kawagoe(川越菓子屋横町)。  Kawagoe is referred to as Little Edo and this candy craft dates back to the Edo period. Suzuki uses a taffy like mixture, similar to corn syrup, which is made from rice and malt. It is called Mizuame in Japanese, which translates to “water candy”.  Suzuki shapes the candy, while it is still hot, into different animals and objects. It costs 300 yen for a sculpted candy.  Part of the pleasure of the sweet, is watching it being sculpted and formed,  and bantering with the creator as he works.  Sometimes he will take requests. You can see him at work in this video I found on Youtube:

Blowing candy
Blowing candy

One of the appeals of this type of candy street stall, is that you can make your own blowing candy for just 100 yen (less than one Euro). Suzuki prepares the hot glutinous starch syrup placing it on a straw. You blow into it to give it a ball like shape. If you fail to blow into shape before it hardens, he will fix it into a ame no tori, candy bird, for you, by snipping and shaping.  This could be why the candy was called ame no tori during the edo period.  He uses a traditional Japanese scissors for snipping and paints on food colouring for the finished effect.  Pictured below is the ame no tori, candy bird, he made for my eldest daughter.

Ame no Tori, Candy bird
Ame no Tori, Candy bird




Candy man Suzuki works from a traditional portable stall on the sweet street in Kawagoe, Saitama. However, you can also visit a candycraft workshop in Sendagi, Tokyo.  Great information in English available here: https://www.ana-cooljapan.com/contents/shopping/movie/candycrafts/INT13011202

For more about the art and an insight into an Amezaiku artist, you can read about the Internationally acclaimed Takahiro Mizuki.  There are some great photos on that webpage too. In English: http://www.amezaiku.com/eng/index2.html and In French: http://www.amezaiku.com/fr/index3.html  For more on the history, there is a fairly detailed piece on Tofugu http://www.tofugu.com/2015/01/06/amezaiku-japanese-candy-creatures-made-fire-sugar/

The candy man usually practices in Candy Street which is in Motomachi. The tourist buses will bring you close:

Access from Kawagoe Station

Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information.  Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Kawagoe Loop Bus

Koedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease.

More information here:
http://www.new-wing.co.jp/koedo/index_e.html

Kawagoe Access by train from Tokyo and Omiya

  • 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
  • 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express. 420 yen for the express ticket, plus base fare.
  • 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line.  You can buy one round trip ticket for 700 yen for either of those stations.
  • 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a rapid train of the Saikyo/Kawagoe line. 760 yen.
  • 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
  • The Fukutoshin and Yurakucho subways connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.

Access by Car

About 21 kilometres from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen.

About 40 kilometres from Hinode using the Ken-o highway. The toll is about 1400 yen.

Paper plate spider trick or treat bags

Yeah, it’s October 1st, I’m finally allowed talk about Halloween without getting eye rolls and or verbal abuse. I took our Halloween box out of storage a few weeks ago and the kids have been enjoying Halloween books, activities and DVDs. Last week we did some Autumn and Halloween origami paper craft to ease them into Halloween crafting. This week we’ve stepped it up a notch. The craft they did today, they really enjoyed, so I figure I’d share it as it’s been a long time since I did a craft post.

Preparation

  • A Paper plate per child
  • Crayons
  • Paint brush
  • Black paint
  • Black paper
  • White paper
  • Red paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue or staples
  • Ribbon or wool or thread
  • Puncher

Instructions

Spider prep Draw on the bottom side of a paper plate in bright crayon. Paint over in black paint. Allow it to dry. While you are waiting for it to dry, cut out 8 strips of black paper for legs. Cut out eyes from white paper and a mouth from red paper. We recycled origami paper.  When the paint has dried, use the reverse of the paint brush to scrape off some paint in whatever pattern suits you, to allow some of the brightly coloured crayon underneath to show through.
Fold the paper plate in half, and cut along the centre of the smooth part of the paper plate, do not cut the outer circle of the corrugated part of the plate. Glue, tape, stick or staple along the corrugated part of the plate to seal the plate into a bag.  Stick on the legs, eyes and mouth. Punch holes to thread either ribbon, thread or wool through to make handles or a strap for the bag. Make a hat out of black paper, as per the featured image.

Voila!

My kids who participated in this craft are 6, 4 and 3. They were able to do each part by themselves and they thoroughly enjoyed it. And now they have an original trick or treat bag to collect goodies in. I know they are looking forward to that part the most!

image

The featured image that shows in the preview for this article is from Picollo Magazine, published by Gakken.  On the web (Japanese only): http://hon.gakken.jp/magazine/07639

Free Resources for Setsubun

(Written January 2015) February 3rd is Setsubun in Japan, which marks the end of winter. A common tradition associated with this ancient festival is mamemaki or beanthrowing. Most families carry out this fun tradition at home, but you can also visit a temple or shrine to do it with a crowd. In Tokyo, there are temples that have famous people, often sumo wrestlers, throwing the beans from a dias out to the excited crowd. Most preschools and children community centres also mark the day with some fun crafts and activities.

The purpose of the festival is to rid your house of demons and welcome good luck for the coming year. Hence, we chant oni wa soto, fuku ha uchi “demons out, good luck in” as we throw beans out the door or at the head of the household who dresses up as a demon. To this end kids often make oni masks for the ceremony and/or for playing dress up.  If you eat the same number of beans as your age it is believed you will have good health for the year. You can read more about the festival on the KA International Moms website http://kajapan.org/general/setsubun-chasing-the-oni-away/ or on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setsubun

DSCF3734

Yesterday, in preparation for the festival next week, the kids and I talked about setsubun. 5 year old remembers it from the last 2 years and (just turned) 4 year old is learning about it in school. They make masks and holders for the roasted beans.  We will make them at home too. We practised some origami to hold the mamemaki roasted beans, there’s a link below to make your own. The beans are easy to come by in Japan at this time of year. Many shops sell commercialised mini-packs of roasted beans or nuts some with flavours. I bought ours from a home delivery shopping service, Coop. We will make demon masks next week. I wanted to share some of the setsubun and mamemaki teaching, craft and activity resources available online. Whether you are living and/or teaching in Japan, or a Japanese living abroad, or just looking for something to do with the kids on February 3rd, you will find something fun among these free setsubun art and craft resources. Most of these ideas are most suitable for toddlers and preschoolers.

Japanese Oni ; devils, demons, trolls or ogres

Japanese demons are depicted with 1 or 2 conical horns on their heads. They are often red in colour. They usually wear tiger skinned pants.

Oni Masks

 You can draw your own, or you can use the free print outs in the links below to make a mask for setsubun. There are a number of ways you can turn the free print outs or a hand drawn oni into masks. First colour (where necessary) the demon and cut it out. If you want to make a mask that covers the face you can stick a rectangular strip of paper to each ear and tape the open ends around an elastic band.  For a “mask” that is worn above the face, as per photo in mamemaki section, you can simply stick the cut out to a head band or even a cap or make your own band out of paper.

Oni Colouring pages

Free print-outs

Huge selection of coloured setsubun print outs: http://putiya.com/html/season/02gatu/season02.html

Oni Origami

An easy origami Oni (Demon) for toddlers and preschoolers
http://www.origami-club.com/season/2/fuku-oni/oni/index.html

Mamemaki holders

Mask that sits on the head and mamemaki holder made out of a milk carton cut in half

Mask that sits on the head and mamemaki holder made out of a milk carton cut in half

Milk carton setsubun mamemaki holders
One of the most popular and easiest kid’s craft for mamemaki holders is cutting a milk carton in half, piercing a hole in each side and using pipe cleaners as a handle. In the right hand (your left!) of my son in the photo to the left.

Paper cup setsubun mamemaki holders
One of the more original mamemaki holders I saw was on Hiragana Mama’s blog; a decorated paper cup.

Origami mamemaki holders
This year we are using origami boxes. This origami box paper craft is one of my favourite practical uses of origami.  You don’t need origami paper as this easy to make box uses rectangle shaped paper such as an A4 sheet of paper.

 

These are just some ideas and resources you can use to enjoy the Japanese February 3rd end of year festival by chasing away demons.  You can read about our setsubun last year, 2014,  here.

Hina Matsuri Activity – make your own jigsaw

Our hina matsuri puzzle after 1 year old's colouring was "amended"!
Our homemade hina matsuri puzzle after 1 year old’s colouring was “amended”!

My hits this week from the search terms “Hina Matsuri Crafts” has encouraged me to showcase some more of our Hina Matsuri activities. This activity can actually be used for any occasion and thanks to the Daiso 100 yen store (dollar / euro store), it is easy to prepare and the materials are quite cheap. I reinforced body parts and colours with my 3 year old and 1 year old while teaching them more about the hina matsuri display and it’s contents.  For more information on Hina Matsuri, Japan’s Doll’s Festival celebrated March 3rd, please visit japanniversary.com

The materials:

"Drawable Puzzle" from Daiso 100 yen store
“Drawable Puzzle” from Daiso 100 yen store
  •  “Drawable puzzle” from Daiso (other 100 yen shops may carry them too). Or paper, cardboard and scissors if you want to make your own puzzle board.
  • A pencil, pen and colours. Washable markers – see explanation below.

Method:

Hina matsuri image copied freehand from nurie.ciao.jp
Hina matsuri image copied freehand from nurie.ciao.jp

On the drawable puzzle use a pencil to outline a picture representing Hina Matsuri. I copied an image from a colouring page on http://nurie.ciao.jp/ a website introduced on Hiragana Mama’s blog.  It is quite difficult to draw accurately over the lines where the puzzle pieces meet, so I was glad that I outlined in pencil first. I then went over in a thin pen, so the girls could see the lines when they were colouring it in. It is useful to either draw on to the frame of the jigsaw or write which end is up.

With washable markers
With washable markers

They were sharing a puzzle, that is why I suggest washable markers. I used a wet wipe over 1 year olds colouring to fix it up after so 3 year old would be happy with the finished jigsaw. It doesn’t get rid of it completely, but it fades the colour and it also worked out as a nice touch for the platforms rather than having to colour them in perfectly.  Upon completion, the kids can enjoy making the puzzle or it makes a nice homemade present for the grandparents!


Just on a side note, those 100 yen drawable puzzles are a handy souvenir from Japan for children. We don’t have them at home in Ireland, that my friends or I am aware of, and the younger kids in the family and among friends really love receiving them. You can buy them in a pack of two 25 piece puzzles or a pack of one 40 piece puzzle; each pack only costs 100 yen.

6 easy activities with Valentine’s Origami hearts for preschoolers

Reposting from last year as it has proved very popular both with my own kids and as a blog post. 🙂

DSCF2242

These simple origami hearts, suited to young children and Origami beginners, were a big hit with my toddler and preschooler today. You can find the instructions and a printable version on Origami Club here, a photo of the instructions is also pictured below. The instructions are in Japanese, but each step comes with a visual that is easy to follow. Four year old was able to complete this from the visual instructions with no assistance, three year old needed some help. All you need is Origami paper or symmetrical paper that holds a crease.

Instructions for Origami hearts were taken from http://www.origami-club.com/valentine/easyheart/easyheart/index.html
Instructions for Origami hearts were taken from http://www.origami-club.com/valentine/easyheart/easyheart/index.html

After making some hearts, I came up with a few games using the hearts, that incorporated numbers, letters, reading and writing practice. We used recycled origami paper from other crafts to make 30 hearts.

1. ABC Origami hearts

When you finish folding the heart the front parts open up so you can write on the inside of the heart. We wrote a letter of the alphabet on the left hand side of the inside of 26 hearts.

P1000219

2. ABC match

Next, using our large ABC foam mat, we did a physical activity with the hearts. The kids got a heart each, opened it to see what letter they had, then matched it to the letter on the ABC foam mat. Once they correctly placed a letter they took another and raced to place it. They really enjoyed this activity.

P1000221

3. Word heart match

On the right hand side of the inside of the hearts I wrote various 3 and 4 letter words. I then put out a picture card with 3 worded hearts, one of which matched the picture. The kids had to match the correct word to the picture.

4. Claiming hidden hearts

Kids love to find hidden things, right? Hide the hearts (with words if you’ve done activity 3 above) around a room and have the kids find them. For older children, have them read the words inside the heart to claim that heart.

P1000222

5. Counting hearts on hearts

This one is based on a very easy activity on toddlerapproved.com I (heart) counting with numbers one to ten. For our version I drew 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 hearts onto 6 origami hearts. Get the kids to count out the hearts and then place the right heart on the right number.

6. Heart Cards

Finally, we turned the hearts that didn’t have too much writing on them into Valentine’s cards, by writing a message on the inside.

This filled up a whole afternoon with fun and number, letter, reading and writing practice to boot! And thanks to these activities I got my first ever Valentine’s card from my four year old, written by himself, unaided and unbeknownst to me IN ENGLISH* “I love you Mammy”. (*English is his 2nd language so usually cards are in Japanese… or squiggles!)

Easy Hina Matsuri Origami Dolls

Origami dolls

This is a really easy origami craft that preschoolers and origami beginners can enjoy. All you need is the free A4 printables available on HappyLilac.net.  You don’t need to be able to read Japanese. The blue Dairi-sama printable can be found here. The pink Hina-sama printable can be found here.  My 4 year old was able to complete his origami dolls without assistance, using the easy to follow visual guide here on HappyLilac.net  . Again Japanese reading ability not required as the method is shown step-by-step in photos, as pictured below. Three old was also able to do most of the folding herself, she just need a little help for the last fold. They really enjoyed this easy craft and were very proud of their origami dolls!
Origami instructions for hina dolls

More easy Hina Matsuri crafts to follow during the week!

 Other Hina Matsuri Crafts

 

Hina Matsuri Paper Cup Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Hina Matsuri is the Doll’s festival celebrated annually for Girl’s Day on March the 3rd in Japan. Families display their Imperial dolls on tiered platforms or in a case from early Febru…

Source: insaitama.com/hina-matsuri-paper-cup-craft-for-toddlers-and-preschoolers/

Hina Matsuri Paper Cup Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers

s-hinaningyokamikoppu
Photo and craft from happylilac.net

Hina Matsuri is the Doll’s festival celebrated annually for Girl’s Day on March the 3rd in Japan. Families display their Imperial dolls on tiered platforms or in a case from early February until Girl’s Day. Superstition has it, the longer the dolls are displayed past girl’s day, the longer it will take daughters to marry. You can find out more about Doll’s Festival in English on the following sites;

We have been enjoying Hina Matsuri crafts since chasing the demons away last Monday. Most of the activities I found online and in magazines are mainly paper craft and ideal for my scissors happy children.  The one I am blogging about today I found through Hiragana Mama’s unbelievably generous sharing of links and resources on her awesome blog.

This craft from Happylilac.net is easy and fun for preschool children. HappyLilac is a Japanese website, but even without reading Japanese a lot of their crafts are easy to follow from the visuals. This activity contains free printables of an Emperor and Empress; there is a coloured version and a blank version that you can use for colouring and then crafting. All you need with the printables is a paper cup, a scissor and either glue or tape.

The directions can be found at http://happylilac.net/hinaningyo-kamikoppu.html#tukurikata, they are also pictured below.

How to make the paper cup dolls

The materials can be printed out from the page linked above, or URL http://happylilac.net/hinaningyo-kamikoppu.html#tukurikata

dairi sama

My 4-year-old and 3-year-old are accustomed to using a scissors as is the culture here in Japan. They enjoyed cutting out the figures and their accessories and sticking them to the paper cup. The paper cups I had to hand were a little big, but they still worked out okay. We used tape instead of nori (glue) to stick the figures to the cup and to make the “dan” (platform or tier) for the paper cup hinasama.  I quite like how they turned out, even without the cut-outs being cut to perfection, the platform being askew and forgetting to stick the lanterns on.

Paper Cup Dairi SamaPaper cup Hina Sama

Looking for more Hina Matsuri activities?

 EASY HINA MATSURI ORIGAMI DOLLS HERE.

Setsubun; Chasing the demon away

Bean scattering,mamemaki,katori jingu shrine,katori-city,japan
It sounds like a metaphor for exorcism, but this is just another fun custom in Japan, carried out on February 3rd annually. Today, is Setsubun, the day before Spring starts and in some ways a type of New Year in Japan. For Setsubun, households use the ritual of Mamemaki, bean throwing, to rid the house of evil and allow luck in for the coming year. We shout “Demons out, luck in” as we throw beans at a Demon. Tonight, that demon was my husband!
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In preparation for the festivities tonight, we made some Demon masks for today’s craft. We also made little baskets to hold the beans. When my husband got home from work he donned the mask and the kid’s threw their beans at him while shouting the mamemaki chant. My husband exited the room when he felt they had “defeated” him! After that my eldest son also threw beans out the door while shouting the chant and closed the door firmly. This is another way people practise Mamemaki and he wanted to be sure.

Setsubun Activity at a children's centre
Setsubun Activity at a children’s centre

In previous years we participated in group mamemaki activities, but it was actually too scary for them with being so little. When you attend a shrine or a jidokan (free children’s centre) young children often don’t realise that somebody is dressed up as the demon, which can frighten the bejesus out of them. In some temples and shrines, such as Senso-ji in Asakusa (Tokyo), the priests or invited guests throw money in envelopes and other prizes as well as the beans into a crowd. That’s one to try out when the kids are old enough for the pushing and shoving, for now, its beans all the way.
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Tomorrow, we take out the hina matsuri dolls…

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