March 3rd is Hina Matsuri or Girls’ Day. Hina Matsuri is a festival in which girls display their traditional Hina ningyo (dolls) on a platform draped with red fabric within their homes. The dolls represent the emperor and empress with their various courtiers all in Heian period dress. While it’s generally a private celebration, there are also ways you can enjoy it in public. One such event is at Sumida Park in Taito Ward, at which Hina dolls will be floated down the river. This is based on a tradition of the Shimogawa Shrine in Kyoto, the idea being that bad and unlucky things are washed out to sea. The event goes from 12 noon until 1pm. Sumida Park is a short stroll from Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line. Another event slightly further afield is an exhibition of 28 different Hina doll sets – from the Edo period to the current day. This will happen at a once grand old mansion and now public park called Misono Koen. The park/mansion is a 15 minute walk from Ookurayama Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line which runs between Shibuya and Yokohama station. The exhibition runs from 10:30 until 3pm on Sunday with entry costing 400yen (includes tea and sweets for the first 100 people).

Photo by Gregory Lane

Staying down in Kanagawa (albeit a long way from Ookurayama), we have the 23rd Oyama Tofu Festival. The festival runs on both Saturday and Sunday and features a Wanko Tofu speed eating contest (YouTube video), a giant 4 metre diameter tofu making pot, the chance to try tofu making for yourself as well as shops selling the stuff and other entertainment. The festival runs from 10am until 5pm on Saturday and from 10am until 3pm on Sunday. The closest station is Isehara on the Odakyu Odawara Line – a 1 hour trip by express train from Shinjuku. Then you’ll need to catch a bus for 20 minutes to the festival venue in Oyama (大山).

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