Katsuura is a small fishing village in Chiba and about two hours away from Tokyo by train. It was our destination on Thursday. We were headed there to celebrate Hina matsuri or Doll Festival or Girls’ Day. It goes by different names.
Every March 3 the Japanese celebrate this day to wish good health and a happy life to little girls. They do this by putting out elaborate and expensive doll sets. These sets vary in detail and pieces but the set usually consists of at least the Emperor and Empress dolls dressed in costumes from the Heian period. The displays can also include their court members but are usually arranged in tiers denoting the levels of importance of the figurines. Thus the Emperor and Empress are always on the top tier. The sets are then stored away in great ceremony until the following year’s celebration. If they’re not stored away promptly after the celebration the parents may doom their little daughter’s marital futures or something to that effect. No pressure there.
We were headed to Katsuura because of articles I’d read about the little town’s impressive display of dolls. They first started this display back in 2001 and it has become quite a draw. The photos should help to show why.
Due to a misreading of information, our two-hour trip ended up taking us much longer--but we finally arrived at the correct town.
Though just a little town on the ocean, it has a very big collection of dolls and the collections start right at the train station.
Knowing Japan, the route is probably the same each year. We went out of the train station and headed towards the ocean until we came to a big doll display set up in a court yard,
We turned left at the big intersection and—keeping the ocean to our right—kept going. We followed the dolls set up along the street and in the shops and it felt much like any Main St. USA, except with dolls.
The shrine and the main show are at the end of the road and butt up against a little hill.
Once we were done admiring the huge display, we exited and turned right, and followed along the road admiring more displays along the way.
The road deadends at a shrine. It's beautiful and past the gate, there are no dolls.
When we were done admiring the shrine, and dolls along this street, we retraced our steps back up 'Main St. USA' so we could see the displays on the opposite side of the street. According to a map given out for the event there are displays up and down the side streets, but we didn't venture out to see since it was getting late.
There are doll displays everywhere. In open doors.
Along the wall of a parking lot.
Attached to poles.
In store front windows.
There are huge displays along the roads and in buildings.
Two of my favorites consisted of really old dolls
And another had dolls of all kinds and from different countries.
There were dolls with glasses on in the window of an eyeglass store,
And there were pokemon-inspired dolls.
And the ocean is right there. We saw lots of these signs on light poles. Yikes! Thankfully, there were no tsunamis that day!
It was a wonderful little day trip.
I certainly hope all those dolls were safely stored away on time--or there are going to be a lot of unmarried little girls in Katsuura.