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Friday, Feb. 20, 2009
Dolls to be displayed for the health of girls
By TOMOKO OTAKE
Events leading up to the March 3 Hina Matsuri (Japanese doll festival) are in full swing. In the centuries-old tradition, people decorate their homes with ornamental dolls and peach blossoms — and celebrate with sake and chirashi-zushi (sushi rice topped with egg and seafood) — to wish for young girls to grow up healthy.
As the festival gets closer, towns and museums throughout Japan are also displaying their own sets of ornamental dolls to the public. The town of Arita, Saga Prefecture, which is famous for its Imari porcelain, is showcasing two pairs of Hina dolls created by two of the world's most famous potteries: Kakiemon of Arita and the Meissen pottery factory in Germany.
The collaboration commemorates the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the sister-city relationship between Arita and Meissen. Kakiemon Sakaida, the 14th to bear the name and the current head of the Kakiemon pottery and a living national treasure, has put colors on Japan's two dolls, representing an Imperial Empress and Emperor from the Heian Period (794-1185). The government-affiliated Saga Ceramics Research Laboratory created the clay bodies. According to the potter, unlike most modern Imari works, the dolls are made from the local Izumiyama clay, which creates a beautiful, bluish hue to the porcelain but is "impossibly difficult" to manipulate.
The dolls are on display at the Arita-kan as part of the town's Hina Matsuri festival, which runs through March 20. Various other sets of porcelain dolls, including a 3-meter-high, seven-platform doll set, are shown in 14 different locations across the town. Local shops will sell tableware items that feature dolls and other motifs, while eateries will serve seasonal meals.
For more information, contact the town's tourism promotion office at (0955) 46-2500 or visit www.town.arita.lg.jp