Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hina Matsuri: The Dolls Festival

As usually happens in my life: It all began with a book.  In second grade, I discovered the books of Rumer Godden.  In particular, "Miss Happiness and Miss Flower" won my 8 year old heart.  Originally, published in 1961, with beautiful artwork by Jean Primrose, the story captured my eager dolly-centric imagination.  Like the lonely child, Nona, I too wished to learn about Japan and set about absorbing as much as possible about culture, art, and The Dolls Festival. 

On March 3rd of each year Hina Matsuri, also called Girls Day or Dolls Festival, is celebrated in Japan. It is characterized by impressive displays of dolls meant to represent the Emperor and Empress of Japan and their courtiers.  A day set aside to honour young girls, and to pray for their health and happiness, it is a traditional family celebration rather than a large public festival.

In the 40 years since I first read "Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, I have privately acknowledged the day on my calender, either by going to lunch for sushi, or honouring my dolls with flowers. With the advent of Facebook, I began sharing posts each year.  In 2015, I was ecstatic to be able to view  a full display of antique Emperor and Empress dolls and court, at the Portland Japanese Garden.

Over the years, I collected non-fiction books on Japanese culture and art, as well as children's books and other small bits and bobs.  As I displayed them around the house, I discovered I actually have a sub-collection of cat-themed items. Perhaps next year, I will host a scavenger hunt, to find them all.  Hah!
Cat-themed Japanese books, art, and candy! 

Kitsune is acting curator of my small collection of Japanese books.

Vintage silk printed robe, made for the tourist trade, post WWII Hawaii.  Gifted to me as a small child.  There is a small photograph of me wearing it circa 1975.

More bits and bobs: roll-top pencil box, musical jewelry box, dolls, sugar bowl, hand painted fan.

 This year, I decided to host a tea party, and invited several friends, and children, to my home.  I encouraged them to bring a doll or other significant childhood toy, share an uplifting story, or write a haiku to Spring.  My husband generously helped cater the event.  In preparation, we visited Uwajimaya to purchase my favourite daifuku mochi, and gyoza.   Although we have made our own sushi, we decided it would best to order a platter of sushi (maki, nigiri, and various rolls) from Momiji's Japanese Crepes and Sushi on Silverton Rd.
We also had cake and shortbread cookies on hand, for those guests that might not care for sushi.  We decided to have a sake tasting, and of course, Tea!

I would like to thank my guests, who were generous with their stories and sense of fun:
  •   Lisa of Wind Horse Antiques shared her collection of tiny bears, and brought vintage fans for guests to purchase.  
  •   Pamela wrote a hilarious Ode to Spring, and brought a Rudy Valentino, a large huggable bear that had accompanied her mother, on many visits to hospital.  
  •   Lynelle wore a gorgeous antique silk and embroidered robe. Family legend has it Fern Casford, a singer and theatre performer, traveled the  Chautauqua circuit in the 1920s with her sister, and this robe may have worn in a production of a musical, such as the Mikado.  Lynelle also shared stories of her adventurous companion,  Hedda Hoppington.  Miss Hedda, a guest in her own right, attended tea in a lovely handmade kimono, and was welcomed into the 1947 Keystone dolls house by her admirer, Monsieur Reynard.  
  •   Nicole, her husband and two sons, each brought a toy to share. Nicole has an incredible collection of vintage clothing. She organized the Petticoats to Poodle Skirts fashion show at the McClean House last month.
  •   Seleste shared the story of her childhood persistence in a colouring contest, that culminated in  her doll, Marguerite St Just. Ella shared her doll, Lilianne, as well as playing with all my toys in both the guest room and studio.

Snug in the parlour.  We had delicious food and conversable friends.

Lynelle's family heirloom silk robe

Pamela.  Her velvet flower bandeau was amazing

Boys are welcome too!   

Seleste and her daughter Ella. 
Nicole's Puppet from Prague.  Check out Nicole's floofy 50's dress fabric--it  has scenes of Paris.  J'adore!

Lynelle and Miss Hedda

Lisa's Tiny Bears
And, we were happily joined by three young people, Ella, Noah, and Riley.  Quite well mannered and intelligent, they shared their favourite playthings and ate all the cake. Hurrah!  I was thrilled to see they seemed quite at home;  At various times reading books, playing with my dolls houses and stuffed animals, or drinking copious amounts of tea.

Official Hostess Portrait. Yes, there are velvet cats on my skirt.  Hehe!

If you would like to learn more about Hina Matsuri, please explore these links below:


1 comment:

  1. Hostess with the "most-est" as my mother might have said. Spring Haiku revisited:

    Lust is freshly sprung
    The Earth warms, buds are bursting
    It’s roadkill season.
    ~ Miller 2018