Japanese Hinamatsuri Doll

People are not the only things to immigrate; sometimes a thought can also cross to a new land. Sometimes that thought hides inside a very old doll. It was difficult for my wife’s family in Japan to see her immigrate to the United States. No one in their lineage going back, well, forever, had ever left the country, and especially to marry a foreigner. Though kind to me in the extreme, and supportive of their daughter, there was always something held back. Girl’s Day, March 3 every year, is a little jewel of a holiday. Also known as Hinamatsuri, the holiday has roots back to the 8th century. Held to pray for a happy life for one’s daughter, it is also a confirmation of the generational ties between women. The day is marked in part by the display of an elaborate set of dolls. The photo here is one of them from my in-laws’ home. The Empress looks in great shape, mostly because she only comes out of her case once a year, but she is quite old. The doll dates back to the early 1900s, and has been passed from mothers to daughters at the appropriate times. It was after the birth of our own daughter that the package arrived. My wife’s mother wrote that seeing the photos of her first granddaughter, she understood now that the circle was not severed by immigration, it was simply expanded across an ocean. My wife would be the custodian of the doll, to pass it on to our daughter, no matter where she may settle years into the future.

Year: 1988

– Peter Van Buren

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