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Mieko Nagano : March,1997 Oita City, Japan

March is the season of "Hina doll."

People have handed down many lovely plays of girls. Amongthem is "The bivalve shell coupling." The play is often paintedon the old picture scrolls of the Imperial Court of Heian era.The shell pieces, used for the game by princesses in Edo era,are often displayed in museums or historical preservation halls.A pair of beautiful pictures are painted on the innersurface of each shell piece of a bivalve. Girls compete with each other to find the pair pictures and couple the pieces that fit just like a key and a lock. It is one of the elegant games of the old days.

In my childhood, we enjoyed "Otedama", a kind of jugglinggame in which girls tossed up and caught small pretty cloth bagscontaining rosary beads or "azuki" beans, usually singing a songat the same time. We used to enjoy the sound and touch of the bags. I wonder if it is still played today.

mieko@fat.coara.or.jp