Monday, February 23, 2015

ひなまつり Hinamatsuri - Doll Festival or Girls' Day

 March 3

Girls' Day or Doll's Festival is celebrated on the March 3 each year. At this time families put the festive dolls out. They are usually set up around mid February, but the belief is that if they are not taken down by the March 3 their daughters will not marry. 

The dolls are dressed in costumes that date back to the Heian period of time (794- 1192AD) 

Top Row - Left is Emperior and Right is Empress
2nd Row Three ladies in waiting
3rd Row  Five Musicians, two drummers on the left and
three flute players on the right
4th Row Two Ministers on either side of the food
5th Row Three guards in the middle of the orange tree
on the left and the cherry tree on the right.
6th & 7th Rows Furniture and Carriages

This festival is said to have started in the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). At that time the dolls were used as a form of lucky charm to ward of sickness and bad fortune.  The practice at that time was to make paper dolls and float them in the river sending the bad fortune away. In the present time the decorative dolls are displayed and it is hoped that by displaying them the dolls will take away illness and bad fortune.

In Japanese family they often have a festival meal on March 3 and it is often the custom to ask a male friend to attend.
Hishimochi (Sticky rice cake)
Chirashizushi (Mixed rice salad)

Hinaarare (Hard sweets)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2015 ひつじ どし  Year of the sheep

Using the Japanese Zodiac this year is the year of the Sheep or hitsuji doshi ひつじ どし

Setsubun - 3rd February 2015

せつぶん Setsubun - Bean Throwing Festival

3rd or 4th February (depending on the year)

Setsubun refers to the change from winter to spring in the traditional Japanese calender. In Australia this is still our summer.In Japan on the night before Setsubun many Japanese homes have a mame-maki (a bean throwing ceremony). A masu (a wooden cup) is filled with roasted soybeans and then the beans are thrown around the house. While they are throwing the beans they say "Oni wa soto!" (Bad spirits go away) "Fuku wa uchi!"(Good fortune come in).

After the mame-maki is over, everyone eats beans but only the same number as their age. It was believed that this would keep you healthy during the year. (That is ok if you are young but if you are old can you image having to eat 60 beans or even 90 beans) Often children make Oni (Goblin) masks

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tanabata たなばた


On July 7 in Japan Tanabata festival is celebrated. At that time people decorated bamboo branches or trees with decorations
Children are told the story of the Orihime (the weaver princess) and Hikoboshi (the cow herder)

Year of the Horse うまどし

Year of the Horse

2014 is the Year of the Horse うまどし Umadoshi
In Japan each year has an animal sign assigned to it. There are twelve animal years, last year was the year of the snake.
In order the years are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog
and wild boar. It is believed, according to About, that this animal zodiac was adopted for use in 604 in the reign of Empress Suiko.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

こどものひ Children's Day


こどものひ Children's Day

Children's Day is the 5th May each year and since 1948 has been a National Holiday, although it has been celebrated since ancient times in Japan. Originally May 5th was Tango no Sekku or Boy's Day but in recent times it has become Children's Day.

Koinobori are the carp shaped streamers that families fly outside their houses on this holiday. Families often display warriors helmets called Kabuto or dolls dressed in tradition warrior's armour.
Like the doll's festival in March Kodomonohi is about celebrating the good health of children.
Children often take baths with iris leaves and roots to promote good health. Kashiwamochi is eaten at this time which is rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves and filled with sweet bean paste. 

Song for Children's Day  こどものひ

Carp Origami こいのぼり

Samurai Helmet Origami かぶと

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013 Year of the Snake

This year is the year of the snake. At New Year in Japan people sent one another ねんがじょう(New Year cards) very similar to sending Christmas cards in Australia, except they all arrive at your house together on 1st January after being send prior to December 25th.