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March 03 2013

Hina Matsuri Traditional Dolls - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Hina Matsuri Dolls

One of the most beautiful celebrations in Japan takes place today: Hina Matsuri - the Doll Festival, a day when the families with girls are displaying a very special set of dolls, hina-ningyō, thus praying for their girl’s good health and happiness.

As you can see from my photo, the traditional sets of Hina Matsuri dolls are true works of art. A complex set can include up to 15 dolls (and can cost up to 1 million yen…), while the simplest set includes only two: the Emperor (Odairi-sama) and the Empress (Ohime-sama). Placed in front of a gold folding screen (byōbu), they are wearing Heian Period clothing (the empress wears juunihitoe, a twelve-layered robe), the Emperor is holding a shaku (a ritual baton) and the Empress is holding a fan. The set also includes two paper lanterns (bonbori), two flower vases, two lacquered boxes, a mandarin orange tree (ukon no tachibana) on the left and a cherry blossom tree (sakon no sakura) on the right.

February 13 2013

Traditional Japanese Renjishi Dolls - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Traditional Japanese Shishi Dolls

There’s a wide variety of traditional Japanese dolls, sometimes classified by how they are made, other times by what they represent. Most of them are easy to identify: geisha, noble ladies or samurai, but there are some representing less known characters from the Japanese traditional culture, like the Hina Matsuri Dolls, or the Ichimatsu Dolls.

The dolls from today’s photo are very popular in Japan and many times I have been asked what they represent… it is clear that they represent Kabuki characters, but what is the story?

They are characters from the Renjishi / Lion Dance Kabuki play, but as strange as it may seem, these are not humans: these are… lions - well, actually shishi, mythological lion-like animals. The white one is the father and the red one is the cub… (^_^)

October 30 2012

Takasaki Daruma Dolls - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Shorinzan Daruma Temple, Takasaki

The Daruma dolls are Japanese traditional good luck charms representing (in an extremely stylized way) Bodhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen Buddhism. These very unusual dolls first appeared 200 years ago at the Shorinzan Daruma Temple from Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture. At the time, the farmers in the area were suffering from hunger and the priest of the temple taught them to make Daruma dolls from papier-mâché and to sell them at the temple’s festival.

In time, the making of Daruma dolls became a tradition and even today, when Daruma dolls are popular all over Japan, 80% of them (about 1.6 million pieces!) are still produced here. Actually, the Daruma dolls made in Takasaki can be identified by the painting: the eyebrows are drawn to symbolize cranes and the area from the nose to mustache symbolizes a turtle, the crane and the turtle being both symbols of longevity in the Japanese tradition.

February 29 2012

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Sesame Street Augmented Reality Dolls Take AR to the Next Level - YouTube

February 15 2012

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