When Dolls Come to Life
In Japan we have an annual event called “Hinamatsuri” or Doll’s Day on March 3rd. Hinamatsuri is an event where you pray for the safety of girls, decorate dolls called hina-ningyo, and eat chirashizushi, sushi rice topped with raw fish and other ingredients. At Ichihime Shrine where they worship the guardian of women, there is an event called “Hiinamatsuri”, a hinamatsuri event with one extra i. What is special about this event is how real people are wearing Heian period clothing like the junihitoe twelve layered kimono, and so replicate the hina-ningyo dolls with people. Hina-ningyo means hinamatsuri doll, but these human “dolls” are called hito-bina, a play with words, hito meaning human. The hina-ningyo dolls sit on platforms, so of course the hito-bina people also sit on platforms. You can only see the “hito-bina” during in this festival. There are other events too, where you can see into the elegant life of the aristocracy during the Heian period. If you go to this event, I am sure you will feel like you slipped through time into the Heian period!
The people chosen to play the dolls are ordinary people. When the event starts they are not yet wearing the junihitoe kimono, so you can see how they are dressed into the 12-layered kimono that weighs 20 kilos / 44 pounds. When they don their kimonos, the five musicians, “goninbayashi”, sitting on the lower platform start to play Japanese court music and the three court ladies sitting on the middle platform start dancing.
Experience an ancient game – Kaiawase
At Hiinamatsuri you can experience the refined games the aristocrats of the Heian period played. Kaiawase is a game where you try to find two shells that fit together. There is a picture painted on all of the shells, and a matching picture on the matching shell. Playing this game, it is easy to imagine yourself as a Heian period aristocrat.
Experience an Ancient Game – Tosenkyo
In this game called tosenkyo you have a target shaped like a gingko tree leaf on a stand, and you try to knock it down by throwing a folding fan at it from one meter away,. When you manage to knock down the stand, gingko target, and the folding fan you get points based on how they fall. Compared to modern games it is somewhat like darts. The game is surprisingly difficult, but the joy you feel when your fan hits the target is something else.
3.7 experience3.5 access4.0 photogenic3.5
Hiinamatsuri / ひいな祭り
|Phone||Ichihime Shrine：+81 75-361-2775 Hitomachi Hall：+81 75-354-8711|
|Address||83-1 Umeminatocho, Nishikiyamachi Kaminoguchi Noboru, Shimogyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 600-8127, Japan|
|Directions||< From JR Kyoto station> Take the subway Karasuma Line and get off at Gojo station. From there it is a 10 minute walk.|
|Event time||1 to 4PM|
|Cancellations||Rain or Shine|
2000 yen (includes entrance to the temple, a talisman called Momokazashi-mamori, a cup of matcha tea and a traditional Japanese sweet)
|Credit cards||Not accepted|
Most of the people who go to this event are locals, so the event is only in Japanese, but you can enjoy the vividly colored kimonos, drink some matcha, and participate in the games. There is a lot to enjoy at Hiinamatsuri.
|Lanuages spoken||Only Japanese|