BAGUIO CITY ? When Session Road here was closed to traffic last week, ancient Japanese dolls and Cordillera-inspired kimono took center stage.
For the first time since World War II, a complete set of Japanese traditional dolls was displayed at the week-long Session Road in Bloom to celebrate the 14th Panagbenga Festival.
The ancient dolls, mostly dressed in kimono, were instant hits to residents and tourists, mostly children who traveled with their parents, to join the city in the annual flower festival.
Several people wanted to buy the rare collection but the Japanese Association in Northern Luzon Inc. (JANL) said the dolls were ?strictly for your eyes only.?
Hidenobu Oguni, JANL president, said the ceremonial dolls (hina-ningyo) dressed in the traditional court costumes of ancient Japan were donated by a Japanese family in Yokohama City to the JANL. The exhibit was organized to promote Japanese culture in Baguio.
?We are making efforts to introduce Japanese cultures to local people as a part of cultural exchange to improve mutual understanding between the Philippines and Japan,? he said.
As guests took pictures of the colorful dolls, Tomoe Tayama, a Japanese woman clad in a Cordillera-inspired kimono, served green tea, entertained students from different schools and explained to them why parents and grandparents in Japan gifted Hina dolls to their young girls.
Tayama, who studies English here, showed to tourists how to wear kimono with the help of a JANL member. ?We can?t wear kimono alone. It?s very difficult. We always ask for assistance,? she said.
At the Sato Kokusai Learning Center here, the traditional dolls, that were bought about 50 years ago, were arranged on a seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet called dankake or mousen in Japanese.
Sitting on the top platform were the emperor and empress.
The next step kept three court ladies (sannin-kanjo), followed by five musicians (gonin-bayashi), two ministers (udaijin and sadaijin); fifth, samurai or guards; sixth, items within the palatial residence such as a long chest for kimono storage, sewing kit box and utensils for tea ceremony; and seventh, utensils used when leaving the palace such as small meal dishes.
?Ikebana and origami are famous in the world but Japan?s annual celebration for young girls and boys are not known to Filipino people yet,? Oguni said.
He said they will display the dolls at the Baguio-Mt. Province Museum here as part of the Baguio centennial celebration.