Make It Monday: Kokeshi Doll for Hinamatsuri

A belated but very happy Hinamatsuri to you all! I love Hinamatsuri and decided, now my daughter is a bit older, to make her a Kokeshi doll. Not quite as intricate as the stunning Hina (traditional dolls placed on the altar for Hinamatsuri) dolls from Japan but very adorable nonetheless. Keep reading to learn more about this fun festival.

I loved learning about all the different festivals from my Japanese friend whilst at university. The rich colours, beautiful fabric and ancient traditions seemed so far from my rather bland life (which, ironically, for my friend were fascinating). However, it wasn’t until we lived in Japan that I got to experience some of these festivals first hand.

Some of my students arranged for me to be dressed in a kimono.
Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day)

One of my favourites was the Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, festival which is celebrated on 3rd March. I loved seeing all the traditional alters, covered in red cloth with the Hina dolls placed with precision. Some of my students kindly showed me how to make some origami dolls (see below), which were certainly more practical when travelling!

A set of Hina dolls can be very expensive. We saw sets in Kyoto which were priced at well over £2,000 but other sets can be bought for less than £50 from Amazon. Many sets my students had were family heirlooms, carefully used by generations of girls.

Kokeshi dolls

I decided I wanted to make a Kokeshi Doll for my daughtervas a way to mark Hinamatsuri. Kokeshi dolls are a traditional doll, historically made from wood and with minimal features. They used to have straight bodies, with a round head but more recently they have been made more rounded.

There’s are loads on patterns online but I really liked the one by La Calle de la Abuela. However, I wanted to ensure she was a similar size to my other dolls. I tweaked the pattern in several places so my final doll was the same size as Medusa and the Wicked Witch. I chose a pale green wool because green is often associated with youth and vitality – in short, perfect for an energetic toddler!

The doll came together quickly and I loved the way a few adjustments or adornments give her her own personality. She’s one of the few crochet projects that I’ve finished and immediately want to make another, normally I like to move on to a new challenge but I’m planning on making more and will hopefully include some in my online shop.

What do you think? Have you got or made a Kokeshi Doll? Do you celebrate Hinamatsuri? Let me know in the comments below.

Origami dolls

As promised, here’s my origami ‘dolls’.

They’re very easy to make and a fun way to introduce little people to the art of paper folding.

For more information on the different styles of Hina dolls and the alters, check out this fascinating piece from the Kyoto Museum.

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