Culture · Festivals · Food · Friends · Party

Hinamatsuri: Girls Day in Japan

March 3rd was Hinamatsuri – otherwise known as ‘Girls Day’ – in Japan.

While it’s not a national holiday, it’s a special day on the Japanese calendar for families to celebrate their young daughters, and pray for their happiness and success.

You may recognise this emoji, right?

Hinamatsuri translates as “doll festival”.

Around mid-February, special dolls are displayed in the family home until March 3rd, after which they are immediately taken down due to an ancient superstition that leaving them up too late means the daughter will also be married off late.

(Similar to a superstition we have in the UK – if you leave your Christmas tree up longer than twelfth night – January 5th – it brings bad luck.)

I’d vaguely heard of the tradition before, but figured it was mostly for young girls.

So when my friend (no longer my co-teacher, wah!) Haruna invited me and Faith to a Girls Day Party, I was very intrigued.

But she explained that her mother is very traditional, and likes to keep Japanese customs and holidays alive which is so nice and kind of familiar to me – my mam (aka: Italian Catholic Mother) still loves preparing Christmas stockings and Easter baskets for me and my sister.

Haruna and her little sister’s childhood dolls.
Isn’t this just the cutest cake you’ve ever seen? This is a traditional Hina-ogi Cake – in the shape of a fan with two sugar dolls on top. Strawberry and matcha sponge is layered between whipped cream and strawberries.

We had so much fun, I was still smiling ear-to-ear when I got back to my apartment.
Thank you so much for inviting us, Haruna!

Happy Hinamatsuri, everyone!

~ Carla

Culture · Friends · Hamamatsu

Strawberry Fields Forever

I was recently invited to go strawberry picking with one of my teachers and her family. WHOLESOME.

There are many places to go strawberry picking all over Japan, with many in my area growing the local “akihime” variety local to Shizuoka – known for their large grain and slight tartness.

We went to Shimano Nouen, which for around ¥1400-¥1800 (depending on the time of year) you can pick and eat as many strawberries as you’d like.
It’s also common in Japan to dip your strawberries in condensed milk so it comes with that too.

(In the UK have our strawberries with whipped or pouring cream – especially in the summertime so it was somewhat nostalgic for me!)

You can also take your photo outside with their mascot, Masaharu the Ichigorilla.
A combination of two of my favourite things: a photo op and a pun.
(“Ichigo” is Japanese for strawberry!)

Such a cute day.
Me and ******-sensei sadly won’t be teaching together in the coming school year, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity to make lovely memories.

~ Carla