05 March 2011


Rice Cake

Rice people

Girls with cake


Mei and Naomi

This last week we celebrated the Japanese festival of お雛祭り (Hine-matsuri), a festival of dolls for little girls. Yoko made this great 'cake of rice' (not rice cake, as in senbei or Western rice cake) which, as you can see above, is shaped like a couple of dolls and made out of sushi. It was delicious and the kids got a kick out of it. You can read all about it on Yoko's blog, provided, of course, you can read the Japanese, which is worth learning if only to read Yoko's blog.

I was going to say something condescending about how much better the Japanese festivals are and how the Japanese celebrate different things throughout the year and how Americans only really have Christmas, but it occurs to me that we also have Valentine's, Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Still, most of those festivals are pragmatically only about eating a lot (of sweets). The Japanese holidays are about a lot of different things, although eating is frequently a part of what you do, it's not only candy and it's related to something else, like dolls or kites or fish or whatever.

We are missing, for the third year in a row, お花見 (ohanami), cherry blossom viewing. This is a huge thing in Japan and was always such a happy time in Niigata, after the cold, long, wet winter. In England, it's a bit different, I guess, but I still miss it quite a bit. Next year? Next, next year? Time will tell, but I know that I have not had my last ohanami in Japan and that makes me happy.