The doll festivalis 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 matsuriliterally 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.
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!
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/
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.
You can see displays for the doll’s festivals in many places throughout Japan at the moment. Here is one of the displays at my children’s preschool, shown with the 5 year old’s handmade origami paper Emperor and Empress dolls. For more information on and craft ideas for young children for the hina matsuri / dolls festival / girls day, please click here.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Februâ¦
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.
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.