Kumamon the black bear and Kyushu’s other prefectural mascots have been brought to Tokyo to promote an exhibition of antique “hina” dolls from the island’s seven prefectures.
Hina dolls are traditionally displayed for the “hinamatsuri,” or doll’s festival, celebrated on March 3 for girls’ day each year. The dolls represent the Imperial Couple with attendants and musicians, all dressed in the court attire of the Heian Period.
Kumamon, the popular mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, and the other characters introduce their prefectures’ vintage dolls at the fifth annual hina exhibition at Hyakudan Kaidan in Meguro Gajoen, a wedding hall and hotel complex. They also sang a song with girls and their parents to celebrate the annual festival.
The exhibition, which ends March 3, shows antique hina from families in Kyushu plus a huge diorama with some 500 dolls.
“The wall and ceiling art of Gajoen make the diorama look more gorgeous,” said Mamiko Senoshita, a hina doll collector and adviser to the exhibition at the Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organization, which is assisting the fair.
The dolls are displayed in seven rooms in Hyakudan Kaidan, which literally means “100 steps.” The wooden building connects the rooms with a 99-step staircase and is designated as a tangible cultural asset by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Expensive dolls related to the Imperial court and daimyo are highlighted, but the dolls loved by ordinary families also stand out, Senoshita said. “I hope visitors will understand that there is no difference between ordinary and upper-class families in the affection of parents for their children.”