March 3 is Hina Matsuri, otherwise known as Japanese Doll Festival or Girls' Day, across Japan. Don't worry, boys get their own special day, too. It's not really a huge epiphanal day marking the significance of women or anything though. Some families get together and have a big feast ala all awesome holidays, but most people I talked to didn't even do that. The most common thing that happens is that the mother's set up platforms with a set of super intricate (and thus super expensive) ornamental dolls of the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians of a traditional court during the Heian period. I saw quite a few during this time, and they are INTENSE! It reminded me a lot of my Mom and her side of the family spending so much money and time setting up their Department 56 decorations and scenes during Christmas.
One of the teachers I work with at an elementary school invited me to come celebrate with their family. I gratefully accepted! They took holiday feasting to a whole new level, which I was happy to partake in. The teacher I work with is soooo sweet and always tries to talk to me in English, even though she speaks as much as the 2nd graders we teach together. So, I was very grateful that her niece who picked me up spoke near perfect English and didn't mind playing translator all night. The family had such a comfortable, fun, lovable dynamic the whole night; it was a true pleasure to be with them and to be so whole heartedly included.
Koske is the youngest of her four kids and pulled on my heart strings the minute he started picking out and eating half the shrimp before the "official kampai" (meal starting cheers) had been said. Then he went all G5 superhero on me, and my heart was won.
As if I am not indecisive enough, they put out 5 desserts to choose from. I eventually went with the strawberry, but I think they noticed my struggle and shuffled over the azuki (red bean) cake I was eyeing up as well. I was stuffed from the feast, but there's always room for dessert (and seconds and thirds!)
Awwww, there Koske goes again, being all cute and whatnot. This was actually a 'soup' he had made up for me... but then decided to dump on his head.
All the 'young' ladies on Hina Matsuri (and Koske, because God forbid the attention not be on him too long!)
The whole Tomo Crew (+ me) represent!