Every march in Japan, the Hina Doll festival takes place to celebrate the health and happiness of little girls. On this merry occasion, ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress and attendants are put on display across the whole country.
However, the harbour town of Ushimado decides to follow a similar yet slightly different tradition in early September called ‘Hassaku’. ‘Hassaku’ is an abbreviation for the 1st of August according to Japanese Old Lunar calendar which corresponds to early September in the current calendar.
Around that time, the people of Ushimado take their hina dolls out once more and display them around the town to pray for children’s well-being as well as to air them out to prevent any damage from mold and insects. All along the main road, flanked by old traditional houses, dolls are scattered around on roof tiles, windowsills, doors and even in ‘genkan’ (vestibules in Japanese homes). Just look out for those red flags with numbers on them!
Many locals will open their homes to visitors to show off their gorgeous displays and have a fun chat! This local and ancient festival is a great way to get to know locals and to truly see what Ushimado and its inhabitants are all about! You can also try your hand at making some colourful shishikoma, colourful and edible sea creatures made of rice dough usually given as an offering to the gods.