No matter the time of year, there’s always an upcoming festival ready to steal the show in Japan. Some festivities may vary from region to region, and other events only seem to exist in selected areas.
Whether it’s a day to celebrate Japan’s iconic natural landscapes (Sea Day, Mountain Day), a flower-viewing event (Autumn Leaves Festival, Himawari Festivals, Bunkyo Azalea Festival at Nezu Shrine), a get-together to ward off evil spirits or something odd like Hokkaido’s Belly Button Festival, it seems as if there is always something to look forward to.

Japan’s actual number of festivals may seem uncountable, yet, it is always possible to experience some of the most popular, one of which is the Hina Matsuri festival.

Arguably one of Japan’s most beautiful events, the Hina Matsuri Festival is a sort of ‘unofficial holiday’ which takes place annually on the 3rd of March. The day is also known as ‘Girl’s Day’, as the event sees families celebrate and wish for the happiness and success of their daughters. Festivities for the event typically begin a few days before the 3rd of March, and normally consist of the eating of traditional foods at parties held by young girls and their friends. The most iconic image of the festival however, are the collections of seated dolls (representing a Heian wedding of an Emperor and his Empress) known as Hinakazari.

Traditionally these dolls were used as toys for children of aristocratic families, but nowadays they are intended for display only.
Though the majority of displays in Japan take place behind the closed doors of residential housing, it is possible to see public displays of the dolls at various buildings and locations across the country. The Katsuura Village in Chiba Prefecture, and Katsuura City in Tokushima Prefecture (same name, different places) for example, showcase an impressive exhibit of around 30,000 dolls.

This year you can also enjoy the ‘Yukako Goto Hina Doll Exhibit’ which will be taking place at Yokohama’s Doll Museum.

The exhibit will coincide with the Hina Matsuri Season, and will take place at the Yokohama Doll Museum from 30 January to 21 March 2021.
At the event, a collection of traditional Hina dolls will be on display in their proper order, but the main focus of the exhibit will be a number of Hinakazari dolls created by modern doll-crafting master, Yukako Goto.

Yukako Goto was a Gifu-based doll and toy maker who sadly passed away suddenly in 2017 at the age of 49. Goto’s love for doll-making came from her grandfather, who introduced her to the art at a young age. After studying abroad in Australia and the USA, Goto returned to her hometown and set up a traditional festival doll-making business.
Goto’s dolls have been praised across social media by many for their intricate designs inspired by seasonal colours, and their mixture of both traditional and modern features.

The Yukako Goto Hina Doll Exhibit will be displaying more than 30 of Goto’s works, a series of unreleased dolls and some of her processing materials such as notes, design drafts, photographs, videos and letters.

Yukako Goto Hina Doll Exhibit

Venue: Yokohama Doll House, 3rd Floor Project Exhibition Room
Dates: Saturday 30 January - Sunday 21 2021 (The Yokohama Doll Museum is closed on Mondays)
Times: 9:30am - 17:00pm (Last admission 16:30pm)

Admission Fee
Adults: 700 yen
Children: 350 yen
Preschoolers: Free

The Yokohama Doll Museum will also be holding a unique Hina Doll candle workshop over 3 days in February. During the event, participants will design and decorate gel candles with miniature Hina dolls. Limited spaces at the event will be available on a first-come-first-served basis, so make sure you arrive on time if you want to get involved.

Hina Doll Candle Making Workshop

Venue: Yokohama Doll House, 3rd Floor Event Space
Dates: Saturday 20 February, Sunday 21 February and Tuesday 23 February 2021
Times: 10:00am - 16:00pm

Event Admission Fee: 500 yen
Participation Fee Adults: 400 yen
Participation Fee Children: 200 yen

To participate in the Hina Doll candle making workshop, both an event admission fee and participation fee must be purchased.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.