or „Japanese Doll Festival“ (or even shorter: „Girl’s Day“) is celebrated every year on the 3rd of March in Japanese families with daughters. On platforms covered with red carpet they display puppets which symbolize the Emperor, the Empress, their attendants and musicians in traditional court dresses of the Heian period. In front of this royal household the girls welcome their friends and families and entertain them by any means of etiquette.
Due to their partnership with Osaka the city of Hamburg celebrated this day for the 19th time this year in the Museum of Ethnology. The Doll Set or „Puppet Mountain“ („Puppenberg“) is displayed from the end of February to shortly after the Festival. Regardless of the superstition that if the set isn’t taken down after the 4th of March (resulting in late marriage for the girl) the Festival in Hamburg is celebrated on the first weekend of March.
Additionally to this the museum provides it’s visitors with all kinds of cultural activities. Ranging from workshops for Origami and Calligraphy over material arts demonstration and music performances to presentation about Japan and so forth.
I’ve been at this event for the last three years and it gave me the chance to try out all kind of different things.
By now for example I know how to properly fold a paper crane and how to play Hanafuda (a Japanese card game with the infamous InoShikaChou-combination that is used in several Manga).
A coincidental discovery
My first visit there in 2010 was a mere coincidence.
During that time I had Japanese classes and our teacher asked us if we were interested in participating in a Manga drawing workshop. Well, I was curious and looked it up whereas I found out that the same workshop was held on the „Hina Matsuri“ – without age limit as the other course would have been.
As a result I went there and had the change to talk to some interesting people. One of which I talked to for hours about Bleach and other Manga/Anime. Unfortunately we never talked again afterwards.
That year was also their first attempt at a Cosplay competition, with the large amount of three participants.
2011 wasn’t that much different. Some other workshops, a different material arts group – I think Kendo this time – and an increased number of Cosplayers.
That year they tried creating a dialogue between German Manga publisher and the audience, which wasn’t really a success. The room was too vast, the people to eagerly waiting for the cosplay contest to even think about getting into a proper discussion. Though the topics were interesting and relevant, i.e. they talked about Scanlations and Streams, which I’ll talk about in a later post.
My second time there was rather quiet. I didn’t find anyone like the year before, though I volunteered in taking some photos from the contest and sending them to someone. (I am still sorry that it took me so long to do so…). But among the participants was a little boy cosplaying as Ruffy (or Luffy) from One Piece, that was fun. 😀 Though I kind of pity the Chopper plush toy he tormented…
Of cows, Anime and dying people
This year was the first time I was accompanied by a fellow student and two acquaintances of mine, whom I’ve met in between the Festivals.
I could bribe them to come along because of the show acts, as i.e. Hamburg’s school for Ninjutsu had a performance this time. Though we cheered for the ones that had to play the „looser“ quite often…
Some time during the day there was an elderly woman telling stories for the children in the so called „Princely House“ in the museum (see links below for further information). Cushions had been placed in the front yard of the house where the most people where seated. We set on a bench nearby, though only two of us listened.
One of the acquaintances had to retell the last story – a story about a girl, a calf and a rather stupid mother – and her version was way better/more fun than the original. 😀 I would retell her story, but it’s not possible without her expressions and way of speaking.
Beside that we also watched „The Girl who leaped through Time“ and we were entertained pretty well or rather we entertained ourselves and everyone around us pretty well.
Once „Chucky“ complained that he couldn’t run and think at the same time one of my companions argued: „Of course!“, which forced me to add: „But not as man.“ The elderly lady in front of us turned around and grinned to this.
Later on the girl – whose name I have forgotten – called out: „Chucky, Chucky where are you?“ Right then from the other side of the room came the reply: „In the large auditorium.“ Causing everyone to laugh.
When the movie had ended said lady turned to us again and told us: „Well, that was a funny movie. But I do not wish to leap back through time. At least not two and a half years back. My mother-in-law was still alive back then.“ We could only stare at each other and grin, unsure what to say.
After some more Sushi we then made our way into the auditorium again to watch the Cosplay competition.
As a lot of people wanted to see the Japanese Cheerleaders who had their show beforehand and it took us some time to get in there. Passing several Shinigami (Bleach) and an Amaimon (Ao No/Blue Exorcist) Cosplayer among others. The later and the fact, that it was released by the new German publisher Kazé, reminded me of a great series where I read the first chapter, but forgot to continue.
Anyway, the room was packed and the number of Cosplayers had tripled. In the contest were i.e. an Aizen, a L, a Near, Narutos and a Konan. We couldn’t resist telling her that she was about to die the next week. She was quite relieved when she realized we meant her character and not herself.
Sometime in between our idea for our own Cosplay blossomed, but so far we haven’t made a step towards it. Yet there still is the thought and some time left till March 2013. 😉
Sources for Information:
- Official Website Hina Matsuri: http://hina-matsuri.de (German)
- Official Website Museum of Ethnology – The Princely House: www.voelkerkundemuseum.com (German, but English possible)
- Wikipedia: Hinamatsuri (English)
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