Monthly Feature Story
March 3rd is known as a doll festival (hina-matsuri). It is a traditional custom where a set of special dolls dressed like medieval court nobles are displayed. They are usually set up on a stepped platform covered with a red carpet. The doll festival has been the occasion to ward off misfortune and pray for young girls’ healthy growth and happiness.
The doll festival is said to have begun in the Heian Period, which started in 794 and ended in 1185. It was a time when people believed that dolls had the power to drive away evil spirits.
The custom of displaying the dolls in households with young girls started during the Edo Period (1603–1867).
Now it is also common for young girls to celebrate the doll festival by holding parties, enjoying such treats as multi-colored rice cracker coated with sugar, and sushi rice topped with colorful ingredients.
Who buys them and when?
A girl’s maternal grandparents usually buy them for their granddaughter after she is born.
In January and February these dolls are splendidly displayed for sale in department stores and shops for dolls.
The shop is located just 3 minutes from the U.S. Naval Base Yokosuka. SAIZENDO sells several kinds of dolls including “Kitty-chan”, “Monchici”, which can be suitable for a gift.
Japanese people celebrate the first 3 days of the New Year with traditional dishes called “Osechi Ryori”.
The New Year’s dishes are usually beautifully laid out in 2-3 layers of special boxes similar to “bento” boxes. There is a wide variety of colorful foods in each box and each one symbolizes good wishes such as longevity, happiness, wealth, good health and prosperity.
The whole family share those dishes during the New Year’s holiday.
It might be a good idea to go and get your own personal chopsticks at W ARAI as Japanese do. Japan has developed a large variety of chopsticks for each individual.
You can also find charming chopstick rests at WARI, which can enrich your everyday life.
In November families with young children celebrate a tradition known as “Shichi-go-san” (literally “seven-five-three”). Families with five-year-old boys and three- and seven-year old girls visit shrines or temples to pray for their children’s healthy growth and happiness.
This custom is a way to mark important milestones in children’s growth because infant mortality was high in the old days. People really appreciate their growth and wish for the future.
On that day, most girls wear kimono and boys wear haori jacket and hakama pants and it is also common for families to have commemorative pictures taken at a photo studio.
You can be dressed up with traditional Japanese attire and have your pictures taken at the following two photo studios:
Both photo studios are located very close to Shioiri Station on the Keikyu Line and have a variety of dresses and kimono to meet your taste.
At Kurihama Hanano-kuni Park, a million of beautiful cosmos flowers are in full bloom. During September to November, it is the best season to enjoy cosmoses in Japan. Many people feel autumn by blooming those pretty flowers.
From Keikyu-kurihama station, it takes about 15 min. by walk to Kurihama Hanano-kuni Park. How about going out with your family in this mild season?
Cosmos festival will last until Oct 29th. Admission fee is free. Parking area is available.
On Oct 28th and Oct 29th, cosmos free picking event will be held.
There is an elegant Japanese restaurant surrounded by bamboos in Yokosuka Research Park. That’s UCHIKURA, a restaurant of soba and tea-ceremony dishes.
UCHIKURA has a large space and relaxing mood. You can enjoy Japanese dishes peacefully. Hayama beef menu is also popular. Your whole family will be satisfied surely. After enjoying Hanano-kuni Park, have a good dishes at UCHIKURA.
Rice is the staple food of the Japanese diet. In September, rice ripens and is harvested across Japan. Then the freshly-harvested rice is available on the market. When cooked, new rice is soft, glistens, and has a faintly sweet taste. People look forward to tasting it each autumn.
Rice is used in many dishes. Sushi, onigiri (rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed), tendon (a bowl of rice topped with tempura), curry with rice, to name a few. It is also used as ingredients for miso (fermented soy bean paste), rice vinegar, and for brewing sake.
For Japanese, rice is the most significant food and rice harvesting is one of the most important events for farmers.
You can eat sushi, the most popular Japanese dish for foreigners, at the Sushi Bar ENJI. ENJI serves authentic sushi and unique sushi rolls that appeal to foreigners’ taste. The chef worked as a sushi chef in the US for more than a decade. He understands your needs well.
August is the vacation season. Japanese summer is extremely hot and humid. Most of schools are summer vacation now. Many students are assigned some homework. Among them, Summer Research Assignment (Called “Jiyu Kenkyu” in Japanese) is a Japanese unique homework. Every student set own theme, and research it.
Although, summer vacation is not for assignment. Let’s get refresh not only students but also adults!
When you get tired of hot and humid weather, how about spending your time at KAN’NONZAKI KEIKYU HOTEL? You can relax by fresh sea wind.
There is a pool, hot spa and gorgeous campsite. Each room is cozy, and you can see a beautiful ocean from there. KEIKYU HOTEL may be the best place to enjoy your vacation.
Tanabata or the Star Festival is celebrated on July 7th. According to a Chinese legend, the Cowherd Star (Hikoboshi) Altair and Weaver Star (Orihime) Vega, which are usually separated by the Milky Way, are allowed to meet on that day just once a year.
One popular Tanabata custom is to write people’s wishes on small, colorful strips of paper,and hang them on bamboo branches in the hope that their wishes come true.
Some places where you may see such branches are elementary schools, shopping arcades, and various significant public places.
Writing materials can be found at the following shop.
When you write your wishes, we recommend you write with a fude pen, which is a type of brush pen generally used for Japanese calligraphy. One of the wonderful features of this pen is that you can write many different kinds of lines just by applying different level of pressure on the pen.
SHINAGAWA BUNKADO is located on Blue Street and has a wide variety of writing instruments.
May 5th is a national holiday to celebrate growth and health of children. Around that day, you can see carp-shaped streamers hoisted, which symbolize strength and courage. Chinese legend has it that carp become dragons when they swim up whitewater rapids.
Another way to get strength is to enjoy fresh fish at the following 2 restaurants near the sea!
HAMAKURA is located right next door to Yokosuka Fish Market, offering exceptionally fresh fish. You can even enjoy breakfast at the restaurant as it opens from 8 a.m. on weekdays.
Please try out freshly caught fish and scalded whitebait, which will satisfy everyone’s taste buds. NABURA is located in the Yokosuka Port Market.
It's getting warmer these days. Now is a great season to go out.
There are lots of place that satisfy your holidays.
This month, we recommend 2 places.
Our park is located on a beautiful hill that captures a fine view of Mt. Fuji during clear weather.
In our large and family-friendly park, you can experience food which includes our freshly-grown vegetables from our gardens.
You can also have a wonderful time petting animals and baking fresh bread.
Yokosuka is a region with warm climate and is prosperous in agriculture.
Visitors can enjoy picking/harvesting seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the year at Tsukuihama Tourist Farm.
April is the best season of Strawberry.