I had really hoped this year would be the year.

The year I could put the Hina Matsuri (Girls’ Day) dolls out in the living room where we could enjoy them. It’s such a nice tradition: displaying beautifully intricate (and sickeningly expensive) dolls in traditional seven-layered kimonos for the weeks leading up to Girls’ Day on March 3rd, when the whole family pauses to pray for the health and well-being of daughters before feasting on feminine, cutesy foods, like tiny sushi and soup with delicate candy colored balls, followed by pink and green omochi (sticky, sweet rice cakes) for desert.  Ladies magazines are full of hina (imperial princess) themed recipes. This year I think we’ll try the “parfait sushi,” which is sushi rice layered with eggs and other colorful ingredients in a glass so it looks like a parfait. I’m also thinking of ordering a Hina Matsuri themed ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins (known here as 31 Ice.)

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and moms often go awry. Or something like that.

I let the kids help me put the dolls out yesterday. You aren’t supposed to touch the porcelain surfaces ever. The dolls come with a “care package” including thin, cotton gloves to use when handling the dolls. I told the children about a hundred times not to touch the dolls.

A few minutes later, I noticed the emperor was holding the flowers that are supposed to go in a tiny vase in front of the display. An hour or so later, the empress had acquired a piggy bank. This morning, one of the silk lanterns behind the display had a small hole in it.

“I better move these some place out of reach,” I thought.  I knew Daughter would flip out about that, so I planned to do it after she went to bed.

However, when I was washing dishes after lunch, I heard an eerie, ominous rolling sound coming from the hallway. I rushed over, dripping soap bubbles, just in time to catch Daughter with The Dolls going for a joyride in the wagon.


The dolls have now been moved to another room. We won’t be able to enjoy seeing them as much, but at least they won’t be demolished. Maybe they can join us in the living room for longer than one day next year.

I thought Daughter would be upset about moving them, but her transgression with the wagon was so great, even she knew it had gone too far. As I was transporting the dolls to safety in another room, I heard another rolling sound.

“What is that?”

“Just me and my robot dog,” she answered. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if I should look or not. I peeked around the corner to find Daughter talking dragging the vacuum cleaner by the hose, calling to it cheerfully that it was “a very good boy.”

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from mother of two in Japan, Melanie Oda. You also can find Melanie writing on her personal blog, Hamakko Mommy.

Photo credit to the author.

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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