Girls Day means pink mochi

Instead of the chirashi-zushi, or colorful sushi, there was the pink mochi yesterday.

“You can also have chocolate-covered strawberries, or chocolate-dipped brownies,” said Lei Nakayama of Kaua‘i Bakery. “Those are our Girls’ Day items.”

The traditional Japanese faire to celebrate and honor young girls was replaced by more local delicacies from the bakery at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center where Japanese music emanated from the central stage area.

Traditional Japanese dance presented by several Japanese dance groups including the East Kaua‘i Minyo Dance Club and East Kaua‘i Karaoke, the Kinsen Ryu Kaua‘i Shibu and Tsubaki Karaoke, the Kaua‘i Minyo Kai and Kapa‘a Karaoka Aiko Kai and the Kaua‘i Shinbuyo Kai and West Kaua‘i Karaoke.

The lineup of Japanese dance and karaoke filled the two-hour span in which the Kaua‘i Japanese Cultural Society offered up its special holiday celebrations geared towards honoring, not only young girls, but children in general.

The third day of the third month is when Japanese and Okinawan families celebrate Girls Day, or hina matsuri. The term hina matsuri translates to doll festival because on Girls Day, families display their collections of elaborate dolls arranged on tiers. These are headed by the Emperor and Empress and an entourage of guardians, musicians and servants.

The folklore surrounding the dolls is that the display must be taken down on March third or the girls in the family will not find husbands.

Hina matsuri evolved from ancient Shinto purification ceremonies in which, using origami dolls, girls could rid themselves of impurities by breathing on the paper dolls, rubbing the dolls against their bodies and casting away the dolls into a river.

The energetic boom of taiko opened the festivities as the Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko under the direction of Glenna Ueunten resounded throughout the food court area of the mall to announce the festivities.

Amil Valpoon and members of the Kaua‘i Bonsai Club only paused briefly before resuming their trimming of specimen as part of the club’s demonstrations and display.

“We’re lucky this year,” Valpoon said. “We have some flowering specimen we could display. People like to see the flowering specimens.”

Although the banner touted “Kodomo no hi,” or children’s day, the Japanese national holiday celebrating children takes place on May 5, the fifth day of the fifth month, during the Golden Week period.

Kodomo no hi is a day set aside to respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness.

And as customers stopped in to pick up their orders of cakes, there was always room for some pink mochi.

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