After going to the fish market, we went to the small town of Makabe to look at the Hina dolls for Hinamatsuri, or Doll’s Day. This day is celebrated in Japan on March 3rd to wish for the happiness and healthy growth of young girls. Ornamental dolls depicting the emperor, empress, and attendants dressed in traditional garb of the Heian period are placed out for viewing. There is a superstition that if you keep the dolls out past March 3rd, your daughters will marry late. As a result, the dolls are usually put out much earlier (we are currently viewing them in early February) and put away as soon as March 3rd is over.

Makabe is a small town that is famous for their Hinamatsuri festival, which is basically doll viewing. We were handed a map of the town at our first stop that highlights exactly where we could find dolls for viewing, and it ended up being basically every shop and restaurant in town. The participating stores have a corresponding letter and number on their doors to indicate that they have dolls for viewing.


I’m not really sure how this works; does every shop owner have their own doll set that they put out? How do they make money if their shop is closed? I asked Aunty, and apparently families buy doll sets when they have a baby girl. Some of the doll sets are expensive, and they may be passed down from generation to generation. I wanted to ask about the logistics of how the stores in this town are showcasing Hina dolls instead of selling their own things and I don’t think she understood the question because she didn’t really answer me. :/


Anyways, let’s talk more about the dolls themselves. They are typically arranged in tiers of 5 or 7, depending on how large and elaborate the set is. The top level is the Emperor and Empress. Behind or around them may be some accessories such as folding screens or lamps. The next level consists of 3 women – the court attendants. Next, we have 5 musicians, each holding a musical instrument. Next, (we’re at the 4th level from the top) we have the two ministers; one is depicted as young, and the other as very old. The fifth tier are the knights, or samurais.

Honestly, after that, it gets a little fuzzy, as the doll sets vary in terms of how many levels there are and who sits at what level. Each store had a different doll set (sometimes they had multiple sets), and they all look a little different in terms of what the dolls are wearing, what accessories they have, their posture or pose, and of course, what the dolls themselves actually look like. Sometimes, there would be a level with furniture such as wardrobes or palanquins at the bottom, symbolizing the furniture that a princess would bring to the royal court with her after marriage.


In fact, as seen in the pictures above, some doll sets consisted of only the top level – the Emperor and Empress. Because many Japanese homes are very small, this minimal type of doll set is becoming very popular.


Other sets eschewed traditionally completely and featured dolls dressed in traditional clothing, but with bird, rabbit, or mouse heads instead of human heads. Those ranged from cute, to funny, to downright strange. We even saw a set of stained glass dolls, that were lit up beautifully in the window of one store.


By this way, this town is so cute. Most of the buildings look like they are traditional-style, ish. They look so Japanese-y. Like, if you watch an anime, it looks just like the houses in their. For the most part, these are modern houses… I think what makes it look Japanese-y is the shingled roof? A few of the houses went all out with a zen-looking garden in their front yards. Anyways, I’m kind of rambling here, but what I’m trying to say is… I really enjoy spending time in these small towns, I feel like I’m getting an authentic Japanese experience 🙂

After walking around this town and seeing like 2309483094 doll sets, we took a break at a small restaurant and ate some Suiton Soup. This soup has a variety of ingredients, including daikon, carrot, and dough dumplings. It kind of tastes like oden and really hit the spot on this cold day.

It was getting darker (and colder), so we drove home and ate hella sushi. The end.


One thought on “Hinamatsuri in Makabe: All Dolled Up

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