Category Archives: Takasaki Line

Konosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri / Surprising Doll Festival

The doll festival is celebrated on March 3rd, annually, for girl’s day in Japan.  Each household with young girls display hina dolls from early February for the health and prosperity of their daughters. The dolls are also associated with marriage and there is a belief that if you display the dolls past March 3rd it will adversely effect your daughter’s future marriage potential.  Traditionally dolls were tiered on platforms, but nowadays, the dolls are sold in cases. Most businesses and services, such as preschools and hospitals, display the traditional type tiered hina matsuri dolls from early February.


One of the largest displays of the traditional dolls, featuring Emperor, Empress and all the figures of the Imperial Court, as well as the ancient paraphernalia, is in Konosu, Saitama. The title of Konosu‘s famous girls day displays of dolls is very apt.  Bikkuri Hina matsuri literally means “surprising doll festival“.  When I walked into where they were hosted in 2015, I literally let out a very audible “WOW!” The displays are indeed surprising and also very impressive, easy to access and free to view. They will be open to the public from February 17th.

Konosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri (3)

The municipality of Konosu celebrated its 60 year anniversary in 2015, but the area has a long doll making history,  dating back  approximately 380 years.  Coupled with the famous hina doll displays, this has earned Konosu the nickname of “Doll Town”.  There are different sites in Konosu displaying the tiered dolls of an Imperial court and/or palace. In 2015, we visited the largest at the Konosu City Hall. In 2016 the display was moved to Elumi mall beside the station and that is the current location to view the displays annually.

According to the offical website, the Konosu prefectural doll’s pyramid display is the tallest hina matsuri dolls display in the whole of Japan. There are 31 platforms and it is 7 metres high.  There is also a display outside in the courtyard,  some in cut bamboo, as well as a large display on a staircase inside and you can view hina dolls throughout the lobby and hallways of the ground and 1st floor of the City Hall. (You can also view other displays in the mall beside the station and  other locations, which may change each year.) Even the toilets of the city hall are marked with pictures of an Emperor for men and Empress for the lady’s toilet!

Men's toilet signKonosu Bikkuri Hina Matsuri (12)

 

It is free to view the dolls. The main display opens to the public annually on February 17th.  The new location at Elumi shopping mall beside the Kounosu train station (Takasaki line) is much easier to access as it is near the station:   http://www.elumikonosu.com/

The official event website is

http://kounosubina.main.jp/

Hina Matsuri activities and crafts:

Points of interest in Konosu:

ELUMI KONOSU

 

2015 information – there is also free parking for upto 200 cars.  Konosu City Hall is an approximate 20 minute walk from JR Takasaki Line Konosu Train Station or you can get a bus bound for the Driving license Centre 免許センター行き. The address is Chuo1-1, Konosu City, Saitama 365-8601. The telephone number is 048-541-1321. Viewing is until the 7th of March from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Saitama’s #1 free children’s centre? Ageo Kodomo-no-Shiro

Saitama has a large number of superb free children’s (community/ play) centres, called jidokan or jido centre “jidose” (児童館・児童センター). Many mothers agree that Ageo’s kodomo-no-shiro, “children’s castle”, is among the best. In terms of size, equipment and diversity, I would personally rank it as number 1. My children go regularly and they have never tired of it. There is plenty of play equipment, toys and games as well as various rooms including a library, a gym hall and a workshop. Each floor has a rest area with vending machines and toilets. There is a dedicated baby room on the ground floor with free guidance on scheduled days. Also on the ground floor there is a play area restricted to babies and toddlers two and under. There is a large space outside to play as well as a playground in the adjacent park.




Ageo’s Kodomo no Shiro, Children’s Castle in Photos

As you come in from reception the ground floor boasts lots of climbing equipment and slides.

Tree house slide More climbing and slides Climbing frame and train play equipment

Off to the right of this is a rest area where there are vending machines and bathrooms, including a family bathroom. There is also a space to play games that you can borrow from reception.
Games area One of the many games you can borrow Family bathroom

The baby room with consultancy is located beside the game and rest area. The baby and toddler play room is at the back of the ground floor on the left handside.

Baby and toddler play room For crawlers in the baby play room Baby and toddler room slide

Also, on the ground floor is a gym hall (not pictured) and the exit to the open space and sandpit. From the car park you can see an outdoor playground, but you need to go out of the community centre to access it.
Sandpit outside Public playground at the car park

One of the rooms upstairs changes toys periodically. For example, one week they might have “mamagoto” (playing house) toys, another they might have baskets of blocks and foam jigsaw.
Toys for playing house Boxes of blocks at Ageo kodomo no shiro Dinosaur blocks at Ageo kodomo no shiro

There are other rooms including a library and a workshop upstairs that are not pictured.

FURTHER DETAILS

URL:

http://www.ageo-kousya.or.jp/kodomo/

ADDRESS: Japan, 〒362-0047 埼玉県上尾市今泉272
272 Imaizumi, Ageo City, Saitama 362-0047

PHONE NUMBER: 048-783-0888

ACCESS: Located near the Ario in Ageo. Free parking.  By public transport; you can get a bus from JR Takasaki line West exit for 西上尾第二団地 (Nishi Ageo dai ni danchi) and alight at the “Kodomo no shiro mae” bus stop.

Blue lights symphony at Keyaki Hiroba

Blue light symphony
Blue lights Symphony, Winter Illumination at Keyaki Hiroba, Saitama Shintoshin

There will also be winter concerts run the week of Christmas in conjunction with this event, please keep an eye on this blog for more information.

Dates: November 2013 to February 14th 2014
Hours: 17.00 – 24.00
Place: The area of keyabi hiroba which is between Saitama Shintoshin and Saitama super arena
Price: Free
Parking: 400 yen for the 1st hour, 200 yen for each subsequent half hour
Address: 2-27 Kamiochiai, Chuo Ward, Saitama City 338-0001
Phone: 048-600-0070
Access: 2 minute walk from JR Saitama shintoshin Station, about a 7 minute walk from JR Kitayono Station

Winter Illumination in Saitama, Gyoda City

1-Kodai hasu no sato UPDATE: 2015 this event is commencing Saturday November 28th

 

Gyoda City, Kodai Hasu no Sato, “ancient lotus pond”, is best known for its paddy art which you can view from an observational tower. During December, they open the tower on certain dates to view illumination in the area below.

Dates: December 1st, 7th, 8th and from the 14th through to the 25th
Please see the website for up-to-date hours and costs.
Address: 2375 Kobari, Gyoda-shi
Access: Approximately 25 minutes from the Hanyu exit of the Tohoku expressway. A city circulating bus service is available from Gyoda shi Station (14 minutes to Kodai-hasu no Sato)

URL: Japanese only http://www.ikiiki-zaidan.or.jp/kodaihasu/