A DOLLS LAST RITES, TOKYO

Last weekend Timeout Tokyo highlighted the ‘Thank-you dolls’ event at Meiji Shrine, a ritual where people bring in their dolls and monks bless them – driving out the spirits so that they are cleansed.

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A respectful way to eliminate the dolls from a family’s home.

Kobayashi explained that festivals such as this are rooted in ancient purification rites performed as the seasons change, and that long ago the dolls were votive symbols in human form. In fact, she pointed out, the word for “doll” (ningyo) actually means “human form” when it is written in kanjicharacters.

But in addition to respect for them being rooted in ritual and symbolism, Kobayashi said the dolls also “fulfill an educational purpose — teaching us to be nice to them because they are vulnerable.”

It is worth reading the whole story here.

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We arrived at the shrine to see row upon row of dolls being set up by white gloved, mask wearing volunteers in the whitest of clothes.

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A monk standing watch at one end.

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Covering half the square, a close look revealed some very interesting dolls. Config: Canon 5D Mark III with 70-200mm f/2.8.

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There were a lot of samurai dolls.

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More than a few sets of empty armor. Does empty armor have a spirit?

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And a lot of geishas.

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And last but not least, what looks like a North American set of dolls (there were lots). For some reason, these reminded me of a TV show from my childhood. I have no idea which one, but they look like they came from a 70’s puppet based show. No idea …

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Another interesting day in Tokyo.

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