Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Hina Matsuri is a Japanese holiday celebrated on March 3. (Sorry. This posting is coming a bit early... but I think you will get over it) Hinamatsuri litteraly translates into Miniture Doll festival and it is a celebration for little girls everywhere. Other names for Hinamatsuri are Girl's Day and Festival of Peach Blossoms.
In olden days, girls would transfer bad luck to a handmade doll and then throw the doll into the nearest river to vanquish said bad luck. In some cities this tradition is still held annualy. However, today, in Yachiyo-machi (and throughout the rest of Japan), Expensive, beautiful (sometimes antique) dolls are now displayed in the home on a tiered platform.
The tiers are decorated with dolls dressed in Heian era costumes and peach blossoms can usually be found among the dozens of little decorations. On the top platform there is a woman and a man placed close together. This is supposed to represent a wish for love and a good marriage (because every girl still wants and needs that (Thank the Goddess, I was not brought up these values)). And if a girl does not have a doll platform filled with dolls before her first Hinamatsuri... it is concidered bad luck and she may have difficulty in obtaining a husband, or possibly find a poor match, or even worse... she may never get married!
Now... aside from all the superstition, I was actually very lucky to see a Hinamatsuri. Megumi (my ex-coordinator) invited me over for lunch with her family and to see her newborn baby. Rie Nonaka was born on January 8th and has brought nothing but joy to her family ever since. Meg had to have an emergency cesarian and her and the baby were in the hospital for two weeks. After that Meg and the baby moved in with her parents. This is actually a very, very, very common practice in Japan. Women will move back in with their family for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. However, Meg was proud to say, that her husband was coming to collect her only three weeks after the birth, regardless of how long they stayed in the hospital. And true to his word, Meg was back at her husband's family's home in under three weeks.
Meg's Sister-In-Law(who is recently engaged) and Grandmother-In-Law(who doesn't speak any english, but is a huge kick in the pants) were fighting over the baby. Everyone wanted to hold Rie-chan. I even started to get misty eyed when it was my fortunate turn to hold on to her for a bit. I have held babies before, but since almost none of my friends have them (Thank the Goddess) I have had no experience with newborns. But I couldn't help my self get emotional over this new life force. She is Soooooooooo friggin' cute! Dammit! HIT SNOOZE ALARM on BIOLOGICAL ALARM CLOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As per usual... Meg's family stuffed me full of good food. I need to remember not to eat too much food when I arrive at their home. I arrived at 11am and at 4:00 they were still pushing new dishes in my face. We had korean BBQ Nabe (japanese soup you cook at the table), turtle soup, fresh sashimi (deliveded by the fish man to their house), pickles, this sesame spinach dish I can't seem to get enough of, chocolate and chestnut cake, fruit and an abundance of other things I don't know the name for. YUMMY!!!! Meg's Mother-in-law expressed desire to have Mom and Paula over for lunch or dinner when they arrive in 30 days. Which is super cool because they will get to see in the inside of a traditional japanese household.
That is all I have for ya all for the minute. I am trying to get most of my work done for the remainder of the school year, but everytime I look at my planner, there are 5 more things I need to get done asap. So I will bid you farewell and will write again when I have a spare minute.