So I got a call a few days ago from the town office.
“Hey, Jordy, will you go to Hotel Keikoku and write something about the Hina dolls there?”
I said yeah, sure, of course, and that I’d go there as soon as I had some time, which I did the next day. When I’d heard “hina dolls” on the phone, I figured they had found a special set, or set up something interesting.
My view when I approached the front doors:
Yes, I was a bit startled.
Hotel Keikoku is having their first-ever hina-doll festival. Hina Dolls are displayed in celebration of Hina-Matsuri, or Girl’s Day, which is always on March 3rd. The hina-ningyou (dolls) are set up before then in February, and symbolize the Emperor, Empress, and all of their court. The dolls are almost always very ornate and lavish, and are set up on stepped shelves called a hinadan. The Emperor and Empress are at the top, and their attendants are on the steps below them. The dolls are thought to bring good luck and ward off bad spirits.
Traditionally, people would decorate their displays with hishi-mochi (diamond-shaped sticky rice cakes), shiro-zake (white Japanese sake) and peach blossoms, because of their beauty and symbolism of spring. Today, people often also eat sushi and elaborately decorated cakes for Girl’s Day.
Hotel Keikoku brought together 35 full sets of hina dolls for their display, with the help of the vice-mayor and people in Takinoue. It took them almost four full days to get everything set up, but they said it was worth it to see the reactions from their customers.
While we are in the depths of winter, there can be days without a lot of color, and the employees at Hotel Keikoku wanted to share some joy with the people that visit them. They even are preparing special meals during this time for children that visit.
Some people told me they thought that the dolls are creepy or scary, and some said that they liked how luxurious the display was. Once I got over the surprise, I personally loved it. Each set is different, and I spent a lot of time looking at them. Undoubtedly, it’s a sight to see if you are interested in Japanese culture.