Girl’s Day Festival is Saturday at the Hawaii Japanese Center


Hilo’s popular annual Girl’s Day Festival will be celebrated from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Hawaii Japanese Center at 751 Kanoelehua Ave. The event is free, and everyone is invited.

Girl’s Day is a Japanese custom that was traditionally celebrated every March 3 and brought to the islands by the early Japanese immigrants. It was known as “Hina Matsuri” (Doll’s Festival) or “Momo-no-Sekku” (Peach Blossoms Festival). With origins in ancient China and evolving from a Shinto purification ceremony, the Japanese festival dates back to the Edo period in the 17thcentury. Momo, or peach blossoms, with their smooth rounded petals, signify the feminine traits of gentility, composure, and tranquility. Additionally, they symbolized a happy marriage.

Other interpretations of this day include it being an opportunity to encourage filial piety, ancestor worship, loyalty and, above all, the love Japanese parents have for their children. Along with this parental pride and joy came a desire to please their children, which prompted even humble families to sell some of their possessions in order to purchase decorations and suitable dolls for the occasion to ensure their daughters’ future happiness. In ancient times, “Hina Matsuri” included girls breathing out their impurities onto origami (folded paper) dolls, rubbing the dolls against their bodies, then casting them, along with their sins, into the river.

Families with young daughters decorated their homes with special ceremonial dolls, Hina Ningyo, that were replicas of the emperor and empress and their court members including ministers, court ladies and musicians. They were seated on the top step of a tiered red altar along with lavish accessories and miniature furniture befitting nobility. These treasured possessions became part of a family’s heritage and were passed down through the generations.

Examples of these imperial doll sets, as well as vintage and contemporary Japanese dolls, will be prominently displayed during the Girl’s Day event.

Puna Taiko will start the festivities with a taiko drum performance at 9:45 a.m. A Cha-do tea ceremony demonstration by the Urasenke Hilo Association, Japanese calligraphy by Dr. Junichi Noumaru, a make-it and take-it project by Ben Franklin Crafts, and traditional Japanese children’s games will be some of the activities offered. A selection of brightly colored kimonos will be available for picture taking for girls of all ages. Fresh andagi by the Crescent City Lions Club, a shave ice booth by Hilo High School students, Goody Goody frozen treats from Waiakea High School students, bentos and other snacks will be available to purchase. The high school students will also be teaching and leading event participants in a sing-along of Japanese songs.

An okonomi yaki (a Hiroshima specialty similar to a crepe) demonstration will be at 2:30 p.m. by Hiroshima Keizai University students and staff and Otafuku Company.

A special treat will be traditional storytelling, or Kami Shibai, of the Japanese folktale of Kasa Jizou by Mrs. Sachiko Takanashi using her hand puppet Chacha-Kun with English translation by Eri Quiocho at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

A repeat highlight will be the Junior Cherry Blossom Princess Parade at noon for girls ages infant to 13, dressed in kimono or Sunday best. Winners who best represent the Girl’s Day theme will be selected in several age brackets and will receive a ribbon and small gift from the center. A new attraction will be a kendama demonstration sponsored by Nori’s Restaurant at 1 p.m. Pre-registration forms for junior princess events may be obtained by emailing march1gday@yahoo.com.

The Mukashi, Mukashi Aru Tokoro Ni Gift Shop will be open throughout the event, with a charming selection of Asian-themed gift items and books.

The mission of the Hawaii Japanese Center is to serve as a bridge for diverse generations of the future to understand the triumphs and struggles of Japanese immigrants to the island of Hawaii through its educational and cultural activities and access to its collections. The center is a nonprofit organization. Contact hjchawaii@gmail.com or call 934-9611 for more information.

 

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