March 3rd is the Hina Doll Festival in Japan. Households throughout the country put out these Hina doll sets for their daughters to enjoy. Most of the inns here at Togura Kamiyamada Onsen also have elaborate Hina sets on display, including the 8-level one at Kamiyamada Hotel. Kamesei’s set this year is this relatively simple one. Our daughter Misaki seems happy with it.
At the Sakaki-juku Furusato Historical Hall in neighboring Sakaki Town, every year they put on an Antique Hina Doll Festival. This year’s event is scheduled to run from 20-March (Fri) to 06-May (Wed). They often have Taguchi-sensei, a Hina Doll scholar, come for a talk, and this year he once again stayed at Kamesei. According to the sensei, northern Nagano is at a sort of crossroads between Tokyo and Kyoto, and the area’s Hina dolls were influenced by both sides for a style unique to this locale. Taguchi-sensei actually started out researching Western doll culture. He mentioned that when he saw our Misaki playing with her Ju-chan doll.
Ju-chan is named after Grandma Judi who kept the doll from when she played with it as a child. Grandma initially kept it to give to her daughter, but for better or worse she only had my two brothers and I. So she waited for a granddaughter. She finally got one in Misaki, but here in far-away Japan. Even so, Grandma still gave Misaki her treasured doll.
I wonder if Hina dolls have such memories attached to them.