Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What a Doll

March 3 is Girls' Day or Hinamatsuri in Japan. Japanese households with female children display dolls on a crimson, tiered platform. The top level is reserved for the Emperor and Emperess and then descends to the ladies in waiting, court musicians, samurai and court furniture. Elaborate and expensive, families pass these heirlooms down to their daughters or sometimes to a son's wife. Special prayers are said for the protection and honor of all "princesses", young and old!

This week I was invited to a couple's house to celebrate. Pictured above in the blog title is the lunch they graciously served me. I almost couldn't eat it--it was so insanely kawaii (cute). Obviously, much care had been taken to prepare it. Nori, or seaweed, provides the Emperor's kimono. The Empress' kimono is actually a thin egg omelet. Their bodies are stuffed with rice and their diminutive heads are quail eggs--the charming faces and traditional hairstyles comprised of Nori as well.

I enjoyed these onigiri (rice balls wrapped in seaweed) with some new friends in their house. This couple lives in a traditional Japanese home with only wood burning stoves to heat the space. They do not own a TV--only an old-fashioned cabinet radio. Weathered, antique wooden beams, taken from the original house, grace the vaulted ceilings.

Behind the sweet-faced onigiri, you might be able to view an ancient Japanese iron tea pot, supended on a long metal rod above a miniature fire pit. Every year, when the weather turns cold, the family rebuilds the fire area and the small table surrounding it. Some say that the best green tea is made from water heated in an iron pot above this sort of traditional fire.

As a beginner in this ancient culture, I can't say for sure whether this statement is true or not. But I can tell you one fact for certain--I have never been cozier in my life.

That's truth enough for me.


Anonymous said...

I tuely respect the person who seeks to capture and preserve that which is best of thier culture. These folks are as rare in Japan as they are everywhere these days. Even technology like this computer remove us from traditions built by our ancestors and carefully refined by centureies of reverence. I hope that we can pass a legacy as rich to our children. I really enjoy the pictures. Can we see some detail of the dolls?

Nancy B said...

I like what you said about traditions being "built by centuries of reverence." It's true, especially so in Japan where the people find much joy and meaning in their past. I will try and add a more detailed picture of the dolls. For some reason, sometimes adding pix to an already finished post messes up the text. Thanks for your comments!