All About Japan

Programming Isn't Just for Youngsters Anymore

Gaming Smartphones

Masako Wakamiya set out to prove that making and using mobile phone applications wasn’t purely for young whipper-snappers. After six months studying programming, and in regular contact with her teacher, the 81-year-old Japanese woman has produced her very own app, called "Hinadan."

Masako Wakamiya explains how to play Hinadan.

Every year on March 3, Japanese people celebrate Girl’s Day (fear not, boys also get their own holiday on the fifth of May—once called Boy’s Day, but know the more-inclusive Children’s Day) by decorating display stands with dolls dressed in Heian-Era clothing, as seen in a recent "cat-astrophe."

In Hinadan (a mix of the words hina, a type of doll, and dan, meaning tier or level), the player must position 12 dolls in their correct position on a display consisting of four levels. Should a doll be positioned correctly, a noise is heard, and if positioned incorrectly, a really quite aggressive buzzer sounds. The game has been designed not to rely on lightning-quick reflexes or feats of dexterity but on knowledge of the festival and its traditions, providing edu-tainment for all.

You can also check out Wakamiya’s TedxTokyo talk (dubbed in English) in the video above.

Hinadan is now available for free download from the Apple app store here. Japanese superstition suggests that to leave the dolls on display past the fourth of March is unlucky and will result in the household’s daughter marrying late, but the dolls seen in Masako’s foray into the gaming world are probably an exception.

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