Friday, February 02, 2007

Two “one of a kind” Doll Festivals taking place in Ibaraki

March 3rd is the day of Hinamatsuri, or Doll(Girl)’ s Festival, and there are two very unique Hinamatsuris in Kasama City and in Sakuragawa City.

The one in Kasama City is called “
桃宴 or Touen ( Tou means peach and En means feast).” The dolls are all earthenware dolls created by local potters, and they are displayed in the pottery shops, galleries, and other local businesses. You are sure to enjoy the 雛人形 or Hina Dolls you've never seen elsewhere! Touen is from February 1(Thur.) to March 4(Sun.), and 32 businesses are participating this year. Many of these dolls are for sale, and participating local restaurants have special menu during Touen. You can go to the following websites for more information, or you can stop by at the tourist information office by the JR Mito Line Kasama Station. Kasama is only 30 to 60minutes away from Tsukuba by car, depending on the roads you are going to take, or about 1.5 hours by train. If you are going to take the train, get on the JR Joban Line train and switch to JR Mito Line train at the Tomobe Station. Kasama is about 10 minutes from Tomobe, and the cost is 820yen each way from JR Arakawaoki Station. There’s a free bus going around the central Kasama City, and it stops in front of the station.

Websites for Touen (Japanese)


list pf participating businesses (Japanese)

Another unique Hinamatsuri is in Sakuragawa City and is called “Kura no Machi, Makabe no Hinamatsuri,” since it’s been held in the former Makabe Town area of Sakuragawa City. It starts on February 4(Sun) and ends on March 3(Sat). I think the festival period’s been always from Feb.4th to March 3rd every year, regardless of days of the week. I hear some people visit the town early to catch a sneak preview of the dolls :-)

This event was originally started in 2003 to cordially entertain the visitors who come to the town in the cold weather to the see the ( kura), or the traditional warehouses Makabe is known for. This is only the 5th year of Makabe’s Doll’s Festival, but the festival has already become a huge success! People came in large tour buses last year and got very crowded on weekends, so I think it’ll be the same this year. Please note that you won't be able to see many Hina Dolls on display if you go there on Wednesday since many stores will be closed on Wednesdays.

Makabe is only 30 to 40-minute drive from Tsukuba, and there are many free parking lots in town if you don’t mind walking a little bit. There are some pay parking lots for this event, but I had a trouble parking there last year(My advice to you is “leave home early"). You can also take the bus from Tsukuba Center Bus Terminal. Buses to Makabe leaves from loading zone 1, and takes about 45 minutes to get to真壁町民体育館(Makabe Chomin Taiikukan) or真壁駅(Makabe Station). It costs 800yen each way.

Makabe no Hinamatsuri Official Website(Japanese)
Bus schedule from Tsukuba Center to Makabe(Japanese)

There are absolutely no public trash cans, so the visitors to the festival are asked to bring a bag to bring back the trash. Believe me, you will need a bag because you may choose to eat something there or your kid may keep blowing his/her nose!

The pictures from the last year's Hinamatsuri.
Click for a bigger image.

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