Make a Japanese Samurai Helmet for the “Boy’s Day” | Easy pottery for everyone with a slab building

The Gosekku, also known as sekku are the five annual ceremonies that were traditionally held in Japan. The origins were adapted from Chinese practices and celebrated in Japan since the Nara period in the 8-10th century. Some of them are still celebrated by the public today.

Jinjitsu:  on Jan. 7th “Nanakusa-gayu” Rice porridge with 7 herbs
Hinamatsuri: on March 3rd  “Girls Day or Doll Festival”
Tango: on May 5th “Children’s Day or Boys Day”
Tanabata :  on July 7th ” Tanabata Festival”
Chōyō:  on September 9th “Chrysanthemum Festival”

Children’s Day is a Japanese national holiday which takes place annually on May 5,
It is a day set aside to respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness. It was designated a national holiday.

The day was originally called Tango no Sekku and was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon in the lunar calendar or Chinese calendar. After Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar, the date was moved to May 5.

Until recently, Tango no sekku was known as Boys’ Day (also known as Feast of Banners) while Girls’ Day (Hinamatsuri) was celebrated on March 3.

On this day, families raise the carp-shaped koinobori flags (carp because of the Chinese legend that a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon, and the way the flags blow in the wind looks like they are swimming), with one carp for the father, one for the mother, and one carp for each child (traditionally each son).

Families also display a” Kintarō” doll usually riding on a large carp.



My pottery work on a Samurai Helmet

Traditional Japanese Samurai (warrior) helmet,” kabuto” which is traditionally symbols of strength and vitality.

Mochi rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves—kashiwa-mochi (mochi filled with red bean jam) and chimaki (a kind of “sweet rice paste”, wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf)—are traditionally served on this day.

YouTube Video on “How to make a Japanese Samurai helmet” for the “Children’s Day on May 5th.

Final works after the fire

Here are final works of Japanese samurai helmet for the Boy’s Day on May 5th. Helmets are painted with under-graze paints.

This one is another set of the helmet. The shape and design of the Samurai helmet are similar.

Hinamatsuri (The Festival of Dolls on the Gairl’s day )| Pottery Hinamatsuri Dolls

In Japan, we have some unique holidays such as “Girls Day” on March 3rd and the “Chidrens Day on May 5th.

Girl’s Day

The Girls day is on March 3rd. We have several names to call this day, Hina-matsuri, Momono-sekku.
Hina-matsuri is the Festival of Dolls. Hina means “Doll” and Matsuri means “Festival.

Most of families with young girls will celebrate the health and happiness of girls. It is a special day for girls as well as all family members.

How we celebrate this joyful day

On this day, families display special dolls known as Hina-ningyo on Hina-Matsuri.

The Hina-ningyo dolls used to be placed on a several tiered like descending stairs in old days. Most of the families have their own family “Ohinasama” set and this will be passed onto the next generation of the family as a family treasure.

The dolls depict the imperial court. Hina Ningyo represents the Emperor, Empress, their servants, court ladies, musicians, ministers, etc. A set of dolls includes the Emperor, the Empress, three court ladies, five court musicians, the minister of the left, the minister of the right and three servants.

There many rules to display dolls, for example, the Emperor is positioned to the left and Empress is right side (view from the front of display).

In Kyoto, the position of the Emperor and The Empress is in reversed position.

Today, the doll sets are smaller with fewer dolls. A smaller set of Hina dolls are suitable for small modern houses. There is another reason for it, purchase a whole of the Hina-ningyo set costs fortune. Younger couple does not see value to have such extravagant dolls.

In general, customarily a Hina dolls set will be presented by the grand parent of the mother’s side.

What a family would do on the Girl’s Day

Displaying Hira dolls is the major event of this day.
Besides of this, special meals are prepared. Chirashi-zushi, Hishimochi, Hina Arare and so on.

Chirashi-zushi is a kind of sushi with many scattered toppings such as salmon roe and sashimi on vinegar rice.
Modern families celebrate the day by eating spring like sushi-dishes and create a Hina-matsuri inspired cakes.
Hishimochi are diamond-shaped rice cakes and their colors are pink, white and green Hishimochi, Shirozake (rice wine) and peach flowers are displayed together.

Hishimochi is a rice cake colored in pink, white and green and it is prepared only for Hina-Matsuri.
Today, we eat traditional dishes like Scattered sushi(chirashi-sushi), clam soup, sweet white sake(Shirozake), rise cookie (Hina Arare) and diamond-shaped rice cakes(Hishimochi) for the Doll’s Festival.

Some families have a small party by inviting their daughter’s friends usually girls and eat special meals and sing a Hinamatsuri song.

Some other rules

The dolls are usually set up at around Imbolc day, or sometime by 24th of February.

It is said that Hina ningyo take away the bad luck of girls who own them.
People put away Hina Ningyo as soon as Hinamatsuri is over.

It is believed that if people put away Hina Ningyo too late, the girl will get married late in the future.

There no certain day to put away Hina-dolls. It varies by location and area. Some say March 6th is the day. Only one thing is clear, Japanese family does not display the Hina-dolls throughout of the year.

Ohina-dolls after the fire

Mainking “Ohinasama” dolls are very popular in our pottery class. The pictures in this article is dolls made by myself or classmates.