Hina dolls pay homage to curling team

Every year leading up to 3rd March, also known as Girls’ Day in Japan, traditional ornamental dolls known as hina dolls (hina ningyō; ひな人形) begin to deck houses and public spaces. As a way to pray for the good health and happiness of young girls, the dolls are displayed on tiered platforms in all their regal glory.

Redefining the meaning of girls supporting girls, a group of volunteers in Takahama City, Aichi Prefecture, decided to use hina dolls to recreate the Japan’s women’s curling team winning moment at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Curling-themed hina dolls on display

Hina dolls curling team - hina dolls curling
Image adapted from: Yomiuri Shimbun Online Video

Placed in a miniature curling rink, 150 hina dolls were arranged to recreate the Olympic match. Armed with tiny curling brooms fashioned out of toothbrushes, the hina dolls were engaged in a fierce competition, with tension so palpable that it rivalled that of the actual competition. 

Hina dolls curling team - hina dolls curling
Image adapted from: Yomiuri Shimbun Online Video 

Special attention was paid to adding athletic elements to the dolls, with the figures donning different coloured headbands (hachimaki; 鉢巻) and traditional sashes (tasuki; 襷) to hold up their long sleeves. 

Hina dolls curling team - hina dolls olympic audience
Image adapted from: Yomiuri Shimbun Online Video 

Most of the dolls were lined up along the spectator’s seats, cheering on the players fervently while observing mask mandates. 

Hina dolls curling team - hina dolls curling
Image adapted from: Yomiuri Shimbun Online Video 

And last but not least, the dolls were posed to honour the curling team in their proudest moment as they were awarded the silver medal. 

Old dolls retired from Girls’ Day used for display

Hina dolls curling team - hina dolls
Image credit: Susann Schuster 

As it turns out, the dolls used in the display were upcycled from ones that are no longer in use. Japanese customs believe that hina dolls must be put away once the festival ends, or else it would affect the future marriage prospects of young daughters. Hence, old dolls are often kept in pristine condition and retired once the girls reach the age of 10. 

On a mission to breathe new life into the hina dolls, a local volunteer group called Ningyō Komichi no Kai has been collecting old hina dolls every year since 2016 for use in themed displays. This year, the group settled on a curling theme, inspired by the women’s curling team’s brilliant performance at the Winter Olympics.

Loco Solare’s curling success at the Beijing Winter Olympics

Hina dolls curling team - japanese women curling teamImage credit: @worldcurling 

Established in 2010, Japan’s women’s curling teamLoco Solare has clinched numerous medals in international competitions, including their first Olympic win at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. 

Despite losing to Great Britain in the finals in 2022, the team’s performance was a step up from their bronze medal finish in 2018’s Winter Olympics. If that’s anything to go by, we can look forward to their growth and yet another change in their medal’s colour come 2026. 

Hina dolls displayed as homage to Japan’s curling team

Though the event ended on 6th March 2022, the volunteer group has plenty of events lined up every year between February to March to commemorate Girls’ Day, including a procession where kids are dressed in traditional garments. You can even join the group as a volunteer and get involved by checking out their website.

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Cover image adapted from: Yomiuri Shimbun Online Video and @worldcurling 

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