CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Feb. 27, 2020) -- One by one, members of local Girl Scout organizations took traditional Japanese "Hinamatsuri" dolls off a table at the Camp Zama Library here Feb. 26 and placed them on a seven-tiered display covered with red cloth.
"I would like to say I think it was really great and nice and pretty and helpful," said Elizabeth Brown, 6, about participating in the 10-year tradition at the library in preparation for Hinamatsuri, a Japanese doll festival celebrated annually March 3.
Although the experience was new for some of the girls, all it took was a short introduction from Harumi Kondo, a library technician, and they put together the display almost on their own. From time to time they consulted a guide to make sure they got it right.
Hinamatsuri, Kondo explained, takes place each year on Girls' Day in Japan, and it is a time to pray for the continued growth, good health and happiness of girls. The origin dates back to ancient Chinese purification rituals, and incorporated dolls during the Edo Period of 1603 to 1867.
"It's up to their budget and space, but almost every house that has a daughter has a [doll] set," Kondo said.
Chelsey DeCastro, a leader of Brownie Troop 11, said she and her daughters, Lilly and Layla, 9, were happy to participate.
"This is the first year that my girls have done it," DeCastro said. "It was really neat to see the intricacy of all of the dolls and [learn] why they display them [in Japan]. It was really a fun learning experience for them."
Layla said she enjoyed putting up the display, and she made sure she was extra careful with the delicate dolls.
"We had to be very cautious, so it's a way to learn that we cannot break stuff and [have to] be very cautious," Layla said.
Lilly, meanwhile, said the details on the dolls impressed her, as well as the display.
"[The Japanese] put everything in order and keep it that way," Lilly said.
Naomi Thomas, 12, a member of Girl Scout Troop 600, also helped put the display together.
"I thought it was pretty neat," Naomi said. "I liked how the dolls looked and how pretty they are and how we set them up."
This year marks her sixth year in Girl Scout organizations, Naomi said, and she enjoys it.
"I like how we get to explore different things and how you can use your creativity and come together and build a team," Naomi said.
Jim Lacombe, supervisory librarian, said a Soldier donated the doll set to the library many years ago, and staff members began setting it up around 2005.
At some point (Kondo believes about 10 years ago), the staff decided to ask the Girl Scouts if they would like to help set up the dolls, Lacombe said, and they have been doing it ever since.
"The idea was to give them a unique cultural experience," Lacombe said. "They see these off base, but [otherwise they would] probably never put one of these sets up. So we wanted to give them that experience to take away."
Another Hinamatsuri display is at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Library, Lacombe said, and he expects the displays to be up through the middle of March.