‘Hina’ dolls from disaster-hit Tohoku displayed in Tokyo


An annual exhibition of antique hina dolls opened in Tokyo over the weekend, bringing together hundreds of dolls from the three Tohoku prefectures hit hardest by the March 11, 2011, disasters, including some recovered after they were washed away by the tsunami.

The seventh Hyakudan Hinamatsuri exhibition at the Hyakudan Kaidan exhibition hall runs through March 6, five days before the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that massively damaged Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

The hall, located in the Meguro Gajoen wedding complex, is a cultural asset designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Some 500 hina dolls and 170 doll ornaments are on display.

Among them are six dolls from the Iwate town of Otsuchi that were found in mud and debris almost a month after the tsunami.

These dolls, made during the Taisho Era (1912-1926), were owned by Seiko Matsuzaki, who passed away last year. Her husband, Toyoshi, 80, brought them to the exhibition.

“When the dolls were recovered, they were very dirty and smelled very bad,” he said.

They were cleaned up by an acquaintance in Hiroshima.

Another feature of the event is the first exhibition in 22 years of hina dolls from the Katakura family, who live in Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture.

The heads of the family, including Katakura Kojuro, right-hand man to feudal warlord Date Masamune, were the lords of Shiroishi Castle.

Hina dolls are traditionally displayed for the Hina Matsuri doll festivals held March 3 to wish for the well-being of girls.

Many such dolls represent an Imperial Couple with attendants and musicians dressed in court attire representing clothes dating to the Heian Period.

Kunio Kobayashi, an expert on hina dolls, said that the dolls display “the art of face.”

“The faces of the dolls vary, depending on when and where they were made,” he said. “I suggest that visitors find favorite faces and enjoy them.”