Dolls festival – Japan’s largest dolls festival pyramid display “Konosu Doll Pyramid” in Konosu, Saitama Prefecture, is just a short bullet train (shinkansen) ride from Tokyo. You can view the dolls display at the mall at the station.
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 particularly associated with marriage. Thus, 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 came on tiered platforms, but nowadays, you can buy the dolls 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 is in Konosu, Saitama. It features Emperor, Empress and all the figures of the Imperial Court, as well as the ancient paraphernalia. Moreover, according to Konosu City, the Konosu prefectural doll’s pyramid display is the tallest hina matsuri dolls pyramid in the whole of Japan. There are 31 platforms and it is 7 meters 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!
Bikkuri Hina Matsuri
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.
Konosu Doll Town
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.
It is free to view the dolls. The main display opens to the public annually on February 17th. Moreover, 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: https://www.elumikonosu.com/
Close to the mall there is a library where you can relax over a book with coffee, or if you are visiting with family there is a nice play area for small children. There are several cafes and restaurants including the budget family restaurant Saizeriya. They have a cinema in the complex too.
For the annually updated event information (dates) in English click here.