CAMP ZAMA (Feb. 19, 2020) – Slowly and carefully, members of local Girl Scout organizations continued a 15-year tradition here Feb. 18 by setting up an elaborate Japanese doll display at the Camp Zama Library.
“It was really fun, and the most important part was that we all got to do it together,” said Sophia Fischer, 7, a member of Brownie Troop 21.
“Hinamatsuri” displays, placed on red felt, feature dolls wearing the traditional court dress of the Japanese Heian period (794 to 1185), and Japanese households with daughters traditionally set them up in celebration of Girls’ Day, March 3, a time to pray for a daughter’s health and happiness. The practice began during the Edo Period (1603-1867) as a way to ward off evil spirits.
Chelsey de Castro, overseas committee chair for the Camp Zama Girl Scouts and leader of Junior Girl Scout Troop 67, said the activity is important because it gives the girls an opportunity to learn about Girls’ Day and Japanese culture.
“It’s just a fun, cultural learning experience for them,” de Castro said. “We’re excited that we were invited back to help the library out with the display. The girls always enjoy it.”
Library staff members Eiko Kato, librarian; Mikako Yano, library technician; and Kazumi Nishio, library technician, provided guidance as the girls set up the display, but allowed the girls a lot of independence. They used a photo guide to see where to place each doll.
Layla and Lilly de Castro, 10, members of Junior Girl Scout Troop 67, helped the other girls, especially the Brownies, because they had helped set up the display the previous year.
“I like that everyone gets to work together, and because we have Brownies, we helped them set it up,” Layla said.
Lilly, meanwhile, said she was glad the girls received a chance to see everyone’s contributions to the project.
“Each girl is unique in their own way and each girl can have a thought in their own mind that can inspire somebody,” Lilly said.
Isabella Smith, 9, a member of Junior Girl Scout Troop 67, said the activity taught her a lot about teamwork.
“When you’re trying to put something together, but you’re not sure how to do it, it’s probably better to have someone else with you to help you through it,” Isabella said. “I would say that worked with this situation.”
Madison Swanigan, 13, a member of Girl Scout Troop 600, also used her previous experience to help the group set up the display.
Even after participating in the tradition for four or five years, Madison said the activity, and Japan as a whole, still hasn’t lost its novelty.
“I like it in Japan because it’s different and it’s not like in the [United States], so I’m experiencing a new culture,” Madison said. “I get to do different things. That’s what I like about it.”
Cailyn Nelson, 8, a member of Brownie Troop 11, and Genevieve Guszkowski, 8, a member of Brownie Troop 21, also said they had a lot of fun.
Genevieve said she had never participated in the activity before, and she appreciated the help an older girl gave her when she tried to place a doll higher up on the display.
In the end, Sophia said the result impressed her.
“Everything looks so decorated and pretty and just super beautiful,” Sophia said.
Jim Lacombe, supervisory librarian for the Camp Zama and Sagamihara Family Housing Area libraries, said there is also a Hinamatsuri display at the SFHA Library, and he plans to keep both displays up through March 10.
“We think it’s important because most American girls will never have the opportunity to set up a doll set of this size,” Lacombe said. “It’s one of the things we do to give them a memory of Japan.”