Japanese Paper Doll

My friend and I got to one of our classes early. While we waited I asked her if she knew any folklore. She happily gave me a legend about the Mid-Autumn Festival. She also gave me two proverbs. The last piece of folklore she gave me was a tradition she would do with her grandmother:

E: “I remember when I was younger my family and I took frequent trips to Japan. My grandma, who lived in Japan, would take me to a river about 20 minutes from where she lived. We would walk the entire way and talk, it was really nice. She would tell me about how in ancient japan, young girls would fold paper dolls called ‘ohinasama’.  The doll would collect all their bad luck as it would flow into the doll. The girls would then place the dolls in the river and let them float away. With the dolls, the bad luck would flow away too, letting the girls grow healthy and strong. Every time I visited my grandma in Japan, she would take me to do this. She stopped when I was about thirteen.”

Collector Analysis:

My friend expressed that this folk belief was essential for her grandmother’s state of mind. She explained to me how her grandmother had been raised in this tradition, so it was essential that my friend also participate in it. If my friend hadn’t, she said that her grandma would have constantly been worrying over whether or not my friend would grow to be strong and healthy. This tradition was a way of her grandma ensuring that my friend remained strong, healthy, and happy. As superstitious as the tradition may be, I enjoy the meaning behind it. This is a way for mothers or grandmothers to have some peace of mind because to them this is a way of making sure their kids will prosper.