Every year on March 3, Kamiyama Elementary School (Principal, Osamu Ishizaki; 468 students) in Yawatahama City in Ehime Prefecture holds a "Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) Music Concert." This is a rare school in Japan that has continued to utilize the Blue-eyed Dolls given 75 years ago in an annual event.
Since the early 1900s the school has held an all-school Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) each year where the school displays dolls on stands and enjoys songs, dancing, plays, and picturecard shows so that "the children at Kamiyama will grow to be kindhearted and friendly people." This spring all of the elementary school and kindergarten children took part in the traditional event.
In 1927, 216 Blue-eyed Dolls arrived at Takahama Harbor in Ehime Prefecture. "Betty Jane," who came to Kamiyama Elementary, joined in the Hina Matsuri. For a period during World War II she was "protected" in the attic of the teachers' room. However, each year for Hina Matsuri they quietly displayed Betty on stage, and the teachers at the school continue to tell this story to the children.
On the doll stand in the rear with Betty Jane are "Agnes Georgia," given by some American individuals; a new friendship doll "Carol," given in 1989 by Mr. Gulick, 3d; and also a "Yamato" Japanese doll donated with "hope for the school children's healthy growth" by the family of a girl who died in 1939 while a student at Yawatahama Girls' High School. They say this doll plays the roll of substitute for the Torei Ningyo (Ambassador Doll) named Miss Ehime that was washed away and lost in a large flood in Mississippi.
In the gymnasium these four dolls are surrounded by many hina dolls made one by one with care by the children. About 700 people, including preschool children, families, friends, grandparents who live in neighboring towns, and neighborhood acquaintances gaze with pride at this tradition carried on by the school.
School principal Ishizaki says, "The special feature of our school is that we aim for everyone to be good friends and desire peace, with Hina Matsuri playing a leading role, and we include international understanding as part of the education children receive here. " During the war each of the dolls had a dramatic story and many of the dolls disappeared, but Betty escaped harm by being hidden in the attic. "We are proud that our doll has been able to survive, and everyone dearly cherishes this event that has been held year after year."
The students in the lower grades presented the events surrounding Betty's arrival at the school. The sixth graders sang songs from all over the world, and they urged the other students, "let's make good friends with people all over the world." The second graders, who had been waiting for their turn, enthusiastically waved handmade Japanese and American flags as they faced the stage.
The hopes and dreams of the children who love the dolls
are spreading, with assurance of education that allows international
understanding to sprout and that works toward healthy growth.
Published on August 23, 2001
This is a translation of a Japanese
Special thanks to the Nagasaki Shimbun for permission to publish this web page.
Special thanks to Hirobumi Toyama for assistance on the English translation.
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