Monday, May 13, 2013

Yurihonjo Hinakaido Festival

On March 16th, I went to see Hina doll festival in Yurihonjo City of Akita prefecture. Hubby was rather busy with his work that day, so I went by myself to the festival. The Japanese doll festival Hina Matsuri is held on March 3rd every year. Families with daughters display a set of ornamental dolls representing the emperor and empress (Dairibina), three court ladies (Sannin Kanjo), five male musicians (Gonin Bayashi), ministers, and attendants in traditional court dress of Heian period. The custom of displaying dolls began during the Heian period, and it was believed that the dolls possessed the power to contain evil spirits. While Hina Matsuri is a private display of Hina dolls at homes, I visited a public display of Hina dolls some of which were antique and dated back a few hundred years.


Yurihonjo Hinakaido Festival means ‘Yurihonjo City Hina doll route’. It is a public annual traditional doll display event held in the city. The first event was held in 2008, and since then it has been held every year. Yurihonjo Hinakaido Festival encompasses four main areas of Yurihonjo City, namely Iwaki in the north, Ouchi and Honjo in the center, and Yashima in the south. This year, Hina dolls were displayed at six public exhibition halls from February 08 to April 07. These public halls are Kameda Castle Sato Yasohachi Art Museum, Ouchi Dewa Denshokan, Iwaki Local History Museum, Yashima Kyodo Bunka Hozon Denshu Shisetsu, Honjo Kyodo Shiryoukan, and Shushin-kan Hall in Honjo Park. In addition, Machinaka Hina Meguri Festival takes place in more than 60 different locations within the city where visitors can follow a map and drop by in shops, hotels, a few private homes and offices, and see the display of traditional Hina dolls. This year it was held from March 03 to March 17 in the city. The displayed Hina dolls vary greatly in size, history and style.


On March 16th, I went to see the display of Hina dolls at Shushin-kan Hall in Honjo Park, which is one of the six public exhibition halls in Yurihonjo City. Honjo Park is located on the site of Honjo Castle which was built in 1613. Shushin-kan Hall is located in the center of the park where we can learn about the history and culture of Honjo. The park is located about three kilometers away from our home and it took me about 40 minutes to walk up to the park. Several types of exquisite and beautiful Hina doll sets were exhibited in one of the rooms of Shushin-kan Hall. I moved inside the room in a clockwise direction and enjoyed seeing the antique doll sets one at a time.


First I saw two Hina doll sets displayed in the left side panel of the hall. The first doll set belonged to Shinoda-ke (Shinoda Family). Shinoda-ke Hina dolls were typical Keshibina dolls of Edo period. During this period the edicts of Edo government restricted the usage of many luxurious items, which included the large sized extravagant Hina dolls. So the doll makers created extremely fine forms of dolls that were only 10 centimeters in height. Such detailed intricate miniaturized dolls were named Keshibina or ‘poppy seed’ Hina, and became very popular during the latter half of the Edo period. Although the Hina dolls of Shinoda-ke were small in size, they were precise, impressive, and profound. The imperial Dairibina dolls were arranged in the traditional manner of Edo period, where the emperor doll Odairisama was placed on the right side and the empress doll Ohinasama was placed on the left side from the viewer’s perspective. The Kimono clothes of both these dolls had a lot of gold threads and gold brocade. Odairisama doll was wearing Sokutai attire and holding a ritual baton Shaku. Ohinasama doll was wearing a five-layered Kimono named Itsutsuginu Karakoromo, and was complemented by a ceremonial headdress named Kanmuri and a ceremonial folding fan named Hiougi. Along with these imperial Dairibina dolls, other dolls of the set like Niyokan court ladies, Gakujin musicians, Zuishin ministers, Jichou court helpers, and doll furniture Hina Dougu were also exhibited. The entire doll set seemed so opulent.
Display of antique Hina dolls in the left side panel of the hall

Doll furniture Hina Dougu and the doll of Junior Zuishin minister Udaijin of Shinoda-ke

Gonin Bayashi dolls

Keshibina imperial Dairibina dolls of Shinoda-ke

Empress Ohinasama doll

Emperor Odairisama doll

Dolls of three court ladies named Sannin Kanjo

Dolls of Senior Zuishin minister Sadaijin and three court helpers Jichou along with the doll furniture in the background


To my left side, I saw another set of imperial Dairibina dolls that belonged to Sasaki-ke (Sasaki Family) of Omote Ozaki Town in Yurihonjo City. The Hina dolls were typical Kokinbina dolls of Edo period. A person named Otsuchiya Hambei of Ikenohata Nakacho in Ueno was a well known wholesale dealer of Hina dolls during Meiwa era (1764-1772) of Edo period. He ordered a Hina doll maker named Hara Shugetsu to make these beautiful dolls. The eye balls of the displayed Dairibina dolls were made of glass which is one of the salient features of Kokinbina that makes the dolls look real life-like. In addition, the faces of the dolls were shiny. The Kimono clothes of these dolls had a lot of gold threads, colored threads, and gold brocade. This kind of Kokinbina dolls are considered to be the origin of the style of present day modern Gendaibina dolls.
Kokinbina imperial Dairibina dolls of Sasaki-ke

Empress Ohinasama doll

Emperor Odairisama doll

I am standing next to the Kokinbina imperial Dairibina dolls of Sasaki-ke


Next I saw two Hina doll sets and many other interesting dolls displayed in the front panel of the hall. All these dolls belonged to Kosaka-ke (Kosaka Family) of Kamiyokomachi in Yurihonjo City. Kosaka-ke was a merchant family, and had been involved in making and trading of Koji of Miso and Shoyu from Edo period. The shops prospered until recently, but unfortunately closed in 2009. Some of the exhibited dolls of Kosaka-ke were rather unusual and unique. Along with two sets of imperial Dairibina dolls, various other dolls like Hanaodori Gonin Musume (flower hat dance by five daughters), an elderly couple from Noh play Takasago, Empress Jingu Kougou and her minister Takeuchi, Tsuchi Ningyo clay dolls, five male musicians Gonin Bayashi, a legendary hero statesman named Takenouchi no Sukune, Gosho Ningyo court dolls, Oshiebina washi paper dolls, Tsurushi Kazari hanging decorations, uniquely unconventional queued dolls named Gyoretsu Ningyo, and several doll furniture Hina Dougu were also displayed. The cases of all these doll sets show that most of these dolls were collected by Kosaka-ke from Tempo era (1830-1844) of Edo period up to 15th year of Taisho period (1926). I loved the display of two sets of typical Kyohobina imperial Dairibina dolls from Edo period. Both of the empress Kyohobina dolls were wearing vibrant and colorful five-layered Itsutsuginu Kimono made using rich colorful silk brocades and satin woven with gold threads. In addition, the empress dolls had elaborate metal crowns. Both the emperor dolls were wearing equally luxurious Kimono. The faces of both sets of imperial Dairibina dolls were very expressive. The eyes were partially carved and then painted. Both the antique Kyohobina Hina doll sets were extremely elegant and beautiful. The information pamphlet about the dolls of Kosaka-ke indicated that there were three sets of imperial Dairibina dolls on display. So I searched for the third set of Dairibina dolls and found them separately exhibited in the front panel probably because of shortage of space. This Dairibina doll set did not have any crown or headdress which made it rather difficult to identify them from the rest of the other beautiful dolls exhibited.
Display of antique Hina dolls of Kosaka-ke in the front panel of the hall

Hanaodori Gonin Musume dolls

Dolls of an elderly couple where the female sweeps out the bad and the male rakes in the good

Dolls of 1) Empress Jingu Kougou, 2) her minister Takeuchi, and 3) many Tsuchi Ningyo

Gonin Bayashi dolls

First set of Kyohobina imperial Dairibina dolls

Empress Ohinasama doll

Emperor Odairisama doll

Second set of Kyohobina imperial Dairibina dolls

Empress Ohinasama doll

Emperor Odairisama doll

Doll of Takenouchi no Sukune (left) along with several other dolls

Several more dolls and accessories

Display of yet more dolls along with the leader of Gyoretsu Ningyo dolls riding a horse

Gyoretsu Ningyo dolls

Doll furniture Hina Dougu

Third set of imperial Dairibina dolls (separately exhibited)


Finally I saw two Hina doll sets displayed in the right side panel of the hall. These two Hina doll sets belonged to Takizawa-ke (Takizawa Family). One doll set was Kokinbina type and the other set was Kyohobina type. Musician dolls Gonin Bayashi of both these sets were also displayed. Both the doll sets were from Edo period and were made in Edo (present day Tokyo). The emperor Odairisama doll as well as the empress Ohinasama doll of Kokinbina doll set had kind facial expressions. The Kimono clothes and crown of both these dolls were gorgeous. The Kokinbina imperial Dairibina dolls looked so elegant and beautiful. Musician dolls Gonin Bayashi of this doll set had expressive faces, fresh eyes, and cute lips. The emperor Odairisama doll and the empress Ohinasama doll of Kyohobina doll set were slightly bigger in size. Both these dolls were long-faced and had calm facial expressions. The empress Kyohobina doll was wearing vibrant five-layered Itsutsuginu Kimono with a lot of cotton put inside the skirt so that it bulged out in a bean-bag shape. The emperor Kyohobina doll was wearing matching colored Kimono. The Kyohobina imperial Dairibina dolls were wonderful extravagant antiques with vibrant colors.
Display of antique Hina dolls of Takizawa-ke and a samurai armor in the right side panel of the hall

Doll furniture Hina Dougu of Kokinbina doll set

Gonin Bayashi dolls of Kokinbina doll set

Kokinbina imperial Dairibina dolls

Kokinbina empress Ohinasama doll

Kokinbina emperor Odairisama doll

Kyohobina imperial Dairibina dolls

Kyohobina empress Ohinasama doll

Kyohobina emperor Odairisama doll

Gonin Bayashi dolls of Kyohobina doll set

Doll furniture Hina Dougu of Kyohobina doll set

I am standing next to the Kokinbina and Kyohobina imperial Dairibina doll sets of Takizawa-ke

I am standing next to the Kyohobina imperial Dairibina dolls and Gonin Bayashi dolls


I loved seeing various types of antique and elegant Hina dolls that were displayed at Shushin-kan Hall in Honjo Park during Yurihonjo Hinakaido Festival.

4 comments:

Canary said...

Really enjoyed reading your blog! Thanks for sharing such special experiences :)

Mekkan said...

Wow, plenty of research! Now you know much more than I know. :)

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Canary for your nice comment. Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour..

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Mekkan for your comment. Since 2008, I have annually visited such public displays of Hina dolls in Akita and/or Yamagata prefectures. I love antique dolls, and I read a lot about the history of such dolls...It is interesting how these dolls still survive after a couple of centuries!