Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Girls Day and Boys Day, Japan.

"Hina matsuri" or "Doll's Festival" is held on March 3rd. l dedicated to little girls and people pray for their happiness and healthy growth. It's also sometimes called "Momo no sekku" or "Peach Festival" because the blossoms are due to bloom around the same time (the cherry blossom festils "hanami" come later in the month and is the best chance to party in Japan all year). For the oys, the Japanese have "Boy's day" or "Kodomo no hi" on May 5th, and, instead of dolls, people hang up windsocks with pictures of coi carp painted on them. Unfortunately, Boys day is a holiday but Hina Matsuri isn't, which means I will miss that particular day off work:(

Most families with girls and kindergartens and even public spaces, such as shopping centres, put up tiered displays called "hina-ningyo" (special dolls for Hinamatsuri) and dedicate peach blossoms to them. They are usually arranged on a five or seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet. At the top are the Emperor and Empress. The next step contains three court ladies (sannin-kanjo), followed by five musicians (gonin-bayashi), two ministers (udaijin and sadaijin), and three servants ending the bottom row in a five-tiered display. There are also small pieces of furniture, small meal dishes, and other little items.

Before I knew what these displays were for, I was in Toys R' Us and saw all of these (I'm sorry to say...) mostly tacky and plastic-looking dispays, ( kind of plastic stairs with dolls on each one), saw the 500 quid or more price tags and wondered what they were. Now I know they're for the little girls, it seems like a nice gesture, really. Take that, doll festival cynics!

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