On the 3rd of March every year the Hina Matsuri or doll festival takes place. This was being celebrated in our hotel in Tokyo and had lots of displays around the grand foyer.
Its origins go back to China which had the custom of making a doll for the transferral of bad luck and impurities from a person, and then putting the doll in a river and forever ridding oneself of them. The 3rd of March celebrates Girls’ Day in Japan, and from mid to late February families with daughters put out the dolls with the hopes their daughters will grow up healthy and happy.
One superstition associated with this is that if they are late in putting away the dolls when the festival is over, their daughters will become old maids. Most displays consist of just a prince, (Odairi-sama) and a princess (Ohina-sama), but more elaborate displays include the dolls being part of a 5 or 7 tier diplay (hinadan), along with courtiers, candy, rice boiled with red beans (osekihan), white sake (shirozake), peach blossoms, diamond shaped rice cake (hishimochi), toys, and tiny furniture.
Traditionally many parents or grandparents will begin their first display for their daughter, called hatsu zekku, when she is just a year old, but some families have passed their dolls down from generation to generation with the bride carrying her dolls with her to her new home. Aside from the displays, Japanese used to go view the peach blossoms coming out, drink sake with a blossom in it, and bathe in water with the blossoms. The blossoms represent desirable feminine qualities, including serenity, gentility, and equanimity.
Do you think the fact that the dolls are still out and that we’re posing in front of it means that we are celebrating because we are girls and I’m a daughter? Or that the curse of the lateness with the dolls means I’m doomed to be an old maid? Either are very likely.
Today was our last day in Tokyo and it was freezing! Check out Nanna in da hood.
We boarded a bus and headed down to Mount Fuji territory – Kawaguchiko
I tell you, if we didn’t have a guide with us, navigating our way around public transport wouldn’t have been as efficient as it possibly should have been. There is the odd English word here and there, but other than that, if you don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going – then good luck to you my friends.
After a two hour bus ride, of which we slept most of the way, we were gifted with this view – our first sighting of Mount Fuji.
Once off the bus we headed for the Fujiyama Tourist Centre where there was some interesting bits and pieces, but really they were building the new museum next door and one could only imagine that the new place was going to be way better than the old place.
However, there was some lovely Mt Fuji inspired art there.
And a viewing platform where the clouds just gave way enough for us to snap a pic. The red lines are so you can differentiate the snow from the clouds.
There was also a bit of snow around the building, just to prove how cold it was…… note: this could possibly have been planted for atmosphere, cause why would snow be here and not right next to it?
As our tour was by public transport, we walked down to the bus stop that was on an off-shoot of the freeway, and waited patiently. Behind us was this small wooded area that was taped off on one side. It reminded me of a scene from CSI Miami/New York/New Orleans/Miss Rhode Island!
Nothing to do with anything….. just looked creepy.
And next was the Kawaguchiko Lake – check out the swan peddle boats.
But first we high tailed it up the ropeway (cable car) to the Mt Fuji viewing point.
There were about 50 million people all wanting to go on the cable car and even though if were at home we would have said, stuff that, we’ll go another time when there aren’t so many people, the people here in Japan don’t have the same luxury – there are always this many people!
So we lined up and we jumped on board
There are even more people in this carriage that you can see or even imagine.
But the view of the lake was worth it…
… even if the view of Mt Fuji was not. Yoko said, “It is hiding”
Question 1: Which prefecture dow the top of Mt Fuji belong to?
Answer: Mr Fuji spreads over Yaminashi and Shizuoka Perfecture The perfecture borderline on the mountaintop and not been determined, because it is a shrine.
Question 2: Who climbed Mr Fuji for the first time?:
Answer: According to a legend, it was a Shotokutaishi, a famous imperial prince who lived from 574 to 622 [fairly exact for a legend]. He was said to have instantly reached the mountaintop riding a horse.
Question 3: Can you name the five lakes of Fujioko?
Answer: Fujioko includes the lakes on the northern side of Mt Fuji: Yamanakako, Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Shojiko and Motosuko
Question 4: Do you know the difference between “Aka (red) Fuji” and “Beni (rouge) Fuji?
Answer: When Mr Fuji, without snow turns red reflecting the light of the sunset or sunrise, it is called Aka Fuji. Mt Fuji, with snow turning red is called Beni Fuji.
I hope you read all of that, cause there is a test at the end.
Now, I’d like to share a little Japanese children’s story with you if I may?
Once upon a time, an old couple caught a raccoon dog that was messing up their fields and strung him up inside the house. While the husband was out, the raccoon dog tricked the wife into releasing it, and killed her. A rabbit that the couple once helped came, and promised revenge on the raccoon dog. The next day, the rabbit tricked the raccoon dog into carrying a bundle of firewood, and then set it on fire. The raccoon dog was badly burnt, and the rabbit again tricked him into using ointments that only made the burns worse. For the final kick, the rabbit tricked the raccoon dog into using a boat that would eventually sink. Seeing that the raccoon dog had suffered enough, the rabbit told the old man all about his revenge. Together, they prayed eternal peace for the old woman at her grave.
That was the short, tame version. If you’d like to read what really happened (allegedly) then click here. [Arigato Wikipedia]
So, because of this story, the top of this viewing platform, including the cable cars are scattered with these life-size statues of the rabbit and the racoon. It’s bizarre.
I mean, the rabbit is doing something here that those people in the background should be dong something about, rather than texting and eating!
Then, there are the random wild monkey notices everywhere. I didn’t see a monkey anywhere, and Yoko was quite dismissive of the fact that there could be dangerous primates lurking about – I mean, look at this picture. That does not say friendly monkeys in the area.
This bell is for wishing and ringing. You make a wish and then ring the bell to make sure that the wish god – Buddha presumably, heard you. We wished for cherry blossoms and a cloud free day to see Fuji.
She was a fun filled packed day today – no sooner were we down the cable car than we were onto the waiting boat to take us out on what could have been the most uneventful 20 minute boat ride to anywhere.
In fact, the best part about the trip was seeing these lovely swan peddle boats. These people nearly shat themselves as they were peddling like mad to get away from the boat we were on. Panic!
It was super cold, overcast, choppy and Fuji was covered in clouds. Never mind though because we were staying on the lake and hopefully it would be clear in the morning.
This is how I’d like to grow my hair. Thoughts?
After booking into our hotel – a traditional ryokan (Japanese Inn) called Kakuna with a distinct Japanese/Hawaiian style – we opened our balcony door to this – what a view this will be in the morning!
We immediately slipped into our ‘lounge wear’, supplied by the hotel and just lounged and gazed our the window.
Complete with mitten socks!
That fit perfectly into our balcony slippers.
Then we read the compendium and were completely confused – do we drink or not!?
We were told on arrival that the lounging suits were for the hotel and the balcony slippers were for the balcony, then we have inside slippers for inside, then slippers for inside the hotel, but outside the room. So when we went for dinner, we just got dressed, as usual and put on normal shoes….. we got there and 98% of all the people there were wearing their lounge suits and inside, but outside the room slippers!
We decided that we would wear it all for breakfast, but what if it’s only a night time thing? There are so many rules here, but the biggest rule seems to be do what ever you want and wear what ever you want whenever you want!
Stay tuned to see what we wear in the morning.