Thirteen years ago, I asked several families in town if they would mind displaying their hina dolls in front of their houses. At that time, none of us ever dreamed it would become a big event that would represent Katsuyama. Over the years, more and more people have come to the festival and many ask questions like, "Who organizes this event?" or "How did this festival get so big?"
The poster for the first Hina Doll Festival was just a picture of two clay dolls next to the river, blown up to poster size. After that simple image I tried to come up with other designs that would capture the same warm feeling and be suitable for Katsuyama. Handmade crepe dolls or antique dolls passed down for generations have been generously offered as models for the posters.
After the Setsubun Festival in February, but still far from spring, the entire town begins to prepare for the Hina Doll Festival; cutting bamboo, preparing flowers and planning their displays with their neighbors. My daughter, who loves Katsuyama very much, says this time of year feels just like when she and her classmates are preparing for a school festival. It's a lot of work, but even after the sun sets you can hear the happy voices of neighbors working together.
Some women get together and create handmade dolls. The preschool students all make origami dolls. These events are looked forward to by the community every year.
Because the townspeople wanted to be able to take more time to appreciate their neighbors' creations, they began to open their displays for their friends and family on the night before the festival begins. The gentle candlelight brings out another level of beauty which is very different from what you can see in the cheerful sunshine.
The people of Katsuyama have the power to create, to express themselves freely, and above all, they know how to enjoy themselves. I'd like to invite anyone from outside Katsuyama to come spend a spring day with people who will welcome them from the bottom of their hearts.
Member of the Executive Committee