Hinamatsuri, Dolls’ Festival, or specially Girls’ Festival is a festival quite special to the Japanese culture. Families celebrate the day with the display of dolls signifying the Emperor and Empress, along with dolls of different levels in the traditional hierarchy, with the aims to offer blessings for their daughter. This is one of the most heartwarming and colorful festivals in Japan. This week, not only was I able to witness how Japanese people celebrate Hinamatsuri, I was able to experience this in Yanagawa, a town known for its many bridges and canels, which can be navigated by boats.
Tsuboi-san accompanied me in this trip. Thanks to him, I was able to understand more about the culture and tradition of Yanagawa and Japan as a whole. We started our day trip with a boat ride. Our punter was an Ojiisan, an elderly man. He showed us his wonderful punting skills by going through amazingly narrow bridges with ease. He not only introduced the places as we punted along, but also entertained us with singing Japanese folk songs. His voice was really awesome. The whole journey was 4 km long which took about 40 mins. The ride was really entertaining and comfortable. Unlike Venice which seems to be overcrowded with tourists and has constant congestions in the canels, Yanagawa was relatively relaxing and serene.
During the boat ride, we saw a stage where Hinamatsuri ceremony was performed, and children gathered on different boats, getting ready to send paper dolls to the canels, with the hope to pray for good fortune and health.
After the boat trip, we went to the the Tachibana Museum. Besides housing lots of important cultural properties, the museum also displayed an awesome collection of traditional dolls specifically in celebration of Hinamatsuri. The dolls together with the unique hanging ornaments were gorgeous. The Museum has an attached Japanese garden which was an absolute beauty. The best viewing point was from the second floor.
We had lunch in this old building overlooking the beautiful garden. Lunch was unagi, Sea eel, which was also famous in Yanagawa and a must-try. The day was wrapped up with a short walk around Yanagawa town, where we could see a lot of fully bloomed sakura trees, a Shrine with caged chickens, goats, a monkey and some other animals. It was a very enjoyable and memorable day trip !