Hina Matsuri Doll Festival

Hina Matsuri is a big festival in Japan and falls on March 3rd. It literally means the Doll Festival, a day when the families with girls display a very special set of dolls, hina-ningyō, thus praying for their girl’s good health and happiness.

Hina Matsuri is a new tradition which only became popular in the Edo Period (1600-1867) whereby it became customary for maternal grandparents to present a set of dolls upon the birth of their first granddaughter. A full set requires a seven-tiered staircase-like deck on which to display the Emperor and Empress, ministers, attendants, musicians and the procession of dowry goods and is very costly (up to and over one million yen!)

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Lladro Hina Matsuri Porcelain Dolls @ Palace Hotel Tokyo

Here is a link to Llandro’s Hina Matsuri Dolls, which I saw on display in Palace Hotel Tokyo, with the starting price of A$3500 and I am rather keen to get the pair.

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The traditional sets of Hina Matsuri dolls are true works of art with 7 tiers (from Hotel Nikko Kansai, Osaka)

The Emperor (Odairi-sama) and the Empress (Ohime-sama) wearing Heian Period clothing are placed in front of a gold folding screen (byōbu) with two paper lanterns (bonbori) and two flower vases

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The Emperor is holding a shaku (a ritual baton)

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The Empress is holding a fan

Notice the diamond shaped rice cakes placed on the stand with Hina dolls? These are the Hishi-mochi. They are colored in pink (implying peach flowers), white (implying snow), and green (implying new growth).

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Ministers and dowries

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Court attendants, muscians and dowry

The probable origin of Hina Matsuri might be Nagashi-bina (floating paper dolls down a river). Originally, the paper dolls were made to represent each person and all the ill-fortunes that might visit that person in the coming year were wished onto the doll. Then the doll was sent away on the river, taking the bad luck with it.

A taboo to remember is to take the pair of Hina Dolls down after March 3rd – however, if the family is too busy to dismantle the set, the dolls must be turned around, otherwise, misfortune might fall on the daugher and she would not be able to find a good husband!

And for the more academically inclined, here is an interesting critical analysis on Hina Matsuri and the Japanese Female, which inquired on the females as ‘controlled victims of Japanese patriarchy‘ from its sombre and not-so-happy significance.

Today, March 8th is also the International Women’s Day which I found out from the morning show talking heads. Seriously, why do they equate women’s power through style and dressing? Don’t they know that the stars before and after are so totally different? Most stars are from the ghettos anyway. The world’s most powerful woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australia’s richest woman, mining magnate Gina Rinehart are powerful, but they are not stylish!

Anyway, before I tangent off, here is a link to the virtual Girl Museum online – ‘Celebrating Girlhood Worldwide’!

The Wing First Class Lounge @ Hong Kong International Airport

Date of Visit: February 22 2013 (and subsquently on March 6 2013)

Cathay Pacific Airlines’ new First Class lounge just reopened a week or so before my visit after a very extensive renovation. It is on the left after the immigration check on the Departures Level. It indeed had the ‘Wow Factor’ – super sleek in black, red and whites. The designers are from the same firm that designed the airport – Foster + Partners.

The interior and finishes are all uber high-style, with luxurious designer furnitures (from Poltrona Frau) and smooth glossy finishes. From personal experience (owning a set at home), the sofas look good but not comfortable to sit (and get up). With the heavy commercial traffic (and jean wearers) it is good that they come with lifetime guarantees and shabby-chic is pretty much in vogue too!

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Quiet early morning at 6:30am: The main sitting area. Head towards the red wall for the restaurant and the illuminated white panels to grab a hard liquor

The Haven is the restaurant and overseen by staff from Hong Kong’s iconic Peninsula Hotel. The maitre-d, head waiter and waiters seem professional, however, I wasn’t informed nor made aware of the ‘“reinvented” à la carte menu complemented by recommended wine pairings’ (which I read later in the Discovery inflight mags), so I made-do with the buffet selection instead. They have the basic staple of cold cuts, salads, sushi and selections of breads and cakes with muesli and cereals available for breakfast and a beef carving corner for lunch and dinner.

Now, this is The Haven is the place that really ‘wows’ me! Not the food, mind you but the workmanship. Notice how all the marble patterns line up? This is very rare nowadays even if the designers have trek all the way to the quary in Italy to select the marbles. My inquisitive eyes also noted perfect stone-cutting with no chips or repairs in sight!

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Specially selected marbles from the quary – all lined up perfectly on the walls

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Unpolished marbles with perfectly lined marble patterns

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Buffet counter

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Green tea bundt cake for breakfast!

The Champagne Bar: (I had 2 glasses of Moet Imperial Bruts on my return leg back to Sydney on March 6 since it wasn’t open for my early morning flight on my previous journey). I can’t help but comment on the strong glare from the sun. It would be ideal to put in sun-control blinds, but then it will spoil the whole aesthetics and originating idea of the airport – of airiness and lights steaming through (a major short-sightedness since the principal designers from UK forgot how strong the sun can be in Asia!)

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Office area – complete Apple Macs with printer-scanner and telephone.

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The Solus chairs – trademark of Cathay Pacific

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Solus Chairs

There are also 12 shower suites where I headed for freshening up before boarding the plane.