From Izumi Tanaka: Joy From The Past

This last Sunday, March 3, was an “unobserved” holiday in Japan called, “Hina Matsuri.” It is a day to celebrate “girls.” The tradition is that a few weeks prior to this date the families who have daughters would display the set of “Hina Ningyo” (Hina Dolls) along with some peach blossoms (or other blossoms that signify the spring), diamond shaped mochi in layers of pink, white and green. So when a family gets a first baby girl, they are expected to acquire a new set. When I was a little girl, I remember visiting different girlfriends’ homes to look at their set of Hina Dolls to compare.

Most of my friends had sets that would take up half the room, but mine was only about a foot-tall that would sit on a table or shelf. This was a set my grandmother bought for my mother’s first Hina Matsuri, which was, well, 90 years ago! Even though so small, this is a set of exquisitely hand-crafted pieces of dolls and props on a typical 5-tier platform. Each doll is about an inch tall adorned by elaborate and authentic silk kimonos. The little dainty props are also meticulously crafted either with silk or gold leaf. I think at this point, I can say this is a full fledged vintage set.

More than 20 years ago, when my parents downsized from a single family home to an apartment, they shipped some heirloom items from Japan to me in Los Angeles. This Hina Doll set is one of them that came across the Pacific. I haven’t even displayed them every year, but when I do, it gives me so much joy putting them up and looking at them. I appreciate my grandmother’s exquisite taste when choosing a set for her daughter 90 years ago as well as the traditions I often tend to forget. I’m so grateful to still have my Hina Dolls beyond half way through my life whereas I’m sure most of my girlfriends’ bigger sets must be long gone.

So on this rainy evening of a new moon, I’m contemplating on the things that I’ve carried in my life that still give me joy, and the joy I will generate with all the new friendships and adventures I create in the future. Meditation practice certainly has given me much joy from the Sangha I practice with and the spiritual journey it takes me. As sitting group is where I started more than 20 years ago, I would say it’s a good place to go and experience some “sympathetic joy”! 😉

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