when and where to see fall foliage (Japanese version only):

Monday, March 4, 2013

Doll Festival and Honma family

Haru-ichiban(春一番) blew in Yokohama on March 1st. Haru-ichiban is the first strong south winds of the year between Rissyun(立春:the first day of spring,Feb 4th this year) and Syunbun(春分:spring equinox,March 21th this year).
At the same time, a lot of Japanese cedar pollen has started to be dispersed into the air.

The 1262th Shuni-e(修二会) is being held at Nigatsu-do hall of Todaiji temple in Nara Prefecture from March 1st through the 14th. This annual religious ritual known as Omizutori(お水取り) started in 752 and the temple's monks pray for world peace and prosperity.

March 3rd is the day of the Doll Festival (hina-matsuri) to pray for the healthy growth of girls.

information about hina dolls festivals: (Japanese version only) (Japanese version only)

Although most hina dolls are expensive, most girls have their own hina dolls in Japan. Some online doll shops ship the dolls internationally.

Kasafuku  in Sakata City

Famous examples of hanging ornaments for the Doll Festival include Sagemon(さげもん) in Yanagawa City in Fukuoka Prefecture, Tsurushi-kazari(つるし飾り) in Inatori area in Shizuoka Prefecture and Kasafuku(傘福) in Sakata City in Yamagata Prefecure. 

photos of hina dolls and Sagemon:

The hina dolls of the Honma family

The hina dolls that have been handed down in the Honma family are on exhibit at the old main residence of the family in Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture from February 21st to early April.

The Homma family members were wealthy merchants and large landowners.
There is a well-known phrase: "I never become a millionaire like Honma-sama. At the very least, I'd like to be a rich man like tono-sama(feudal lord)."

The family also expended private funds on public enterprises. The occupation forces enforced farmland liberation after World War II, and the family lost most of their land. Now the family is running a real estate company. The founders of Honma Golf Company are from a branch of this family.

Former Honma Residence
 The family started to plant black pine trees for erosion control from 1758, helped the Shonai domain survive without any deaths due to starvation by tapping rice reserve when the Tenmei Famine occurred in 1783, maintained Sakata Minato port and built their  summer residence as a relief work around 1813, created a clinic and provided refugee aid when the Tenpo Famine and the Shonai Offshore Earthquake occurred in 1833, provided assistance for rehabilitation and reconstruction when the Shonai Earthquake occurred in 1894.

Honma Museum of Art (Honma’s former summer residence)
 The family lent money to farmers at low interest rates with their farm land as collateral. Their payment deadlines were virtually non-existent. The family reduced the interest rates during times of famine. There was no struggle between the family and farmers.
However, the farmers became impoverished due to a series of disasters, and did a moonlight flit. Ironically enough, the family acquired their land and became a large landowner.

The owners of long-term companies have some common points.
For all their wealth, they live a simple life. They pay good money for their business and contribution to society, attend to their business, take advantage of acquired skills, don't dabble in speculation.

A member of the family said on a TV program that the three boys of the family lived in a single room although the Honma family was the Japan's largest landowner. Rich fathers' sons who lived high on the hog dissipated their fathers' fortune. However, such sons had a good eye for art. Some of them achieved great success as a painter.

Hina dolls at Chido Museum in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture

The Nagashibina Festival of Mochigase
The Doll's Festival comes from the custom of floating katashiro(a small human-shaped sheet of paper) in rivers or the sea after transferring one's impurity to it by rubbing oneself with it. The custom is called nagashibina.

The Nagashibina Festival of Mochigase(用瀬流しびな行事) will be held in Mochigase-cho, Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture on April 12th.

The Nagashibina Festival of Mochigase

The Nagashibina Festival of Mochigase

paper hina dolls on a straw basket for nagashibina

1 comment:

  1. These little girls are surely having a great time. They look even more cute in their kimono. :)