MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Local civilians and service members were given the chance to participate in various Japanese cultural activities such as Origami, sushi making, dressing in kimono and history lessons at the Iwakuni Youth Hostel Feb. 16 in preparation for the upcoming Hinamatsuri Doll’s Festival celebrated March 3 annually throughout Japan.
The Hinamatsuri Doll’s Festival is a celebration that celebrates the lives of Japanese girls during the peach blossom season, which is why it is also known as ‘Momo no sekki (Peach Festival)’.
“It is to pray for the girl’s health, future, good luck and life,” said Kikuko Shinjo, caretaker and volunteer leader at the youth hostel. “If a family has a baby girl, the parents will also present the girl with a doll.”
Most households annually display hina-ningyo, which are special dolls or sets of dolls staged upon a red-carpeted stand with five or seven steps, during the birth or celebration of a young girl.
Some houses will pass down the grandmother’s doll, and other houses will have individual dolls for each generation of girl, Shinjo said. It is a very special tradition.
The first part of the class consisted of a lesson in origami, which is the traditional Japanese art of folding paper geometrically in order to form intricate shapes and designs.
“Because we have the Hina Doll Festival coming up, I thought it would be nice to make dolls,” said Shinjo. For lunch, the class participated in making a special meal known to the local area called Iwakuni sushi.
Iwakuni sushi (lord’s sushi) is a square, layered rice dish made by boiling rice and molding it with a wooden box.
Unlike rolled sushi, it is pressed and topped with eggs, chrysanthemum pedals, lotus root and mackerel.
“It was started from Lord Kiku’s lunch box sushi,” said Akie Fujimoto, with cultural adaptation program here. “So, it’s only from this area.”
As an extra culture shock, Shinjo explained the significance of the kimono to Japanese culture and allowed the group to try them on.
Kimono are long colorful gowns worn by Japanese women during special ceremonies and parties.
“A kimono is a traditional wedding gown for Japanese,” said Shinjo.
The gowns with longer sleeves are for the unmarried women and then cut after a woman is married.
There is a great expectation for women to get married in Japan, said Fujimoto.
I would like everyone to know about at least one part of Japanese culture, said Shinjo. The purpose of the class is to expose people to a little bit of this culture.
For additional information about upcoming classes or events hosted by the Cultural Adaptation Program, visit building 411, room 101 or call 253-6165.
For additional information about how to experience the Hina Doll Festival in the local areas of Iwakuni or Miyajima, call Information and Referral at 253-4197.