It was March 3rd this past Saturday, and like many famous Japanese holidays, this holiday fell on an odd-number day.
Think about it: 1/1 is the day after New Year’s (お正月), 3/3 is Girls’ Day (雛祭り), 5/5 is Children’s Day (子供の日), and 7/7 is The Lovers/Star festival (七夕). This past weekend meant Girls’ Day was in session.
Why couldn’t Haru have planned to stay in Japan till after May 5th?! Children’s Day is also thought of as a Boys’ Day… It would have been so much more fun then.
But since it was Girl’s Day, Haru went out and bought stuff – girly stuff to be specific. Take a look at this! It’s called Hina-Arare (ひなあられ), or “snow pellets.” There was nothing cold about them. Just popped rice with a sugary coating, and voila! – snow pellets. There were even pink-white-green Hishi Mochi (菱餅) being sold, but she decided her snow pellets contained enough sugar to keep her awake for a week.
I suppose Haru was a little irritated with my sourness. She said to “stuff it.”
Next was dinner, which was o-sekihan (お赤飯), which was rice mixed with sweet azuki beans to give it its red color and sweet taste. It’s one of Haru’s host sisters’ favorite dishes. Talk about a sweet tooth!
So as I was pouting, the girls looked at me mischievously. Identical eerie grins split their faces, making me concerned. Very, very concerned.
Wondering if there was something funny going on, I looked everywhere. That’s when I noticed these two hiding under my elbow. Sure they startled me, but it was more because this was the first time I’ve seen dolls that were smaller than me.
That’s when I noticed one of their heads was wobbling… AND NO ONE WAS TOUCHING IT.
… I wasn’t scared! I just felt like raising my arms, okay?! It’s called exercise. There was too much sugar consumed that one day, so someone had to do it!
After having her fair share of sweetened red rice, it was time to take photos of less disturbing dolls.
Did you know that for every daughter in a Japanese family, it’s tradition for them have to have a set of Hina dolls (雛人形)? This elegant pair belongs to Tomomi, the older daughter in our host family.
This set belongs to Minori, the younger daughter. She wanted Haru to take a picture of them kissing…gross, gross, GROSS!
These dolls were made to represent the Emperor and Empress of the Heian Imperial Court, the era from which the tradition of making Hina dolls originated. And it’s not just the Emperor and Empress dolls – it was the entire Imperial court! That would mean a seven-tiered set. HUGE, not to mention EXPENSIVE. Some sets can cost thousands in US dollars! I have a piggy bank back home that Haru gave me, and I’ve got a few dollars saved up, but it took me forever. I can’t imagine how long it would take to save up for a set – not that I, as a boy, ever would!
So for the sake of space and money, both Tomomi and Minori each only have a pair of official Emperor-Empress dolls. The rest, they made on their own!
And as beloved as their dolls are, their mother put them away by the end of the night. There’s a superstition that says if the dolls are left out until the next morning after March 3rd, the daughters will have bad luck and get married late. If you ask me though, I think most people these days like getting married later rather than sooner. Haru said I’m going to become a cynic at this rate, but also admitted that she was one too.
Minori also showed us a little drawer with candy offerings to the dolls. Real cute… and real girly! Yuck!
Ever the practical joker, Minori decided that playing with her Hina dolls was not enough, so she tried dragging me into her games.
GIRLS – I don’t get them at all! They must be aliens or something! What a nightmare!
But according to this worn out Kuma-chan here, I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Till next time!