Until the birth of Baby, three years ago, I had never celebrated Hinamatsuri Girls’ Day). Now I know what I was missing as a boys only family. Learn about Hinamatsuri by reading, going and making! Cheers to Girls on March 3rd and every day!
Learn about Hinamatsuri, Girls’ Day
Hinamatsuri (雛祭り), also called Doll’s Day or Girls’ Day, is celebrated on March 3rd and is a special day in Japan, but not a national holiday. Platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (雛人形 hina-ningyō) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians. The dolls are clothed in traditional court dress of the Heian period (794 to 1185). The custom began in the Heian period as a way to remove bad spirits from the house.
Most families celebrate Hinamatsuri by displaying dolls and eating and drinking. Special delicacies include shirozake (a sake made from fermented rice), pastel colored hina-arare (bite-sized crackers flavored with sugar or soy sauce) and hishimochi (a diamond-shaped colored rice cake). The main meal on Hinamatsuri is Chirashizushi (sushi rice flavored with sugar, vinegar, topped with raw fish and a variety of ingredients). The sushi is accompanied by a salt-based soup called ushiojiru containing clams still in the shells. Clam shells in food are deemed the symbol of a united and peaceful couple because a pair of clam shells fits perfectly.
Hinamatsuri traces its origins to an ancient Japanese custom called hina-nagashi (雛流し, lit. “doll floating”), in which straw hina dolls are set afloat on a boat and sent down a river to the sea, supposedly taking troubles or bad spirits with them. They often got caught in fisherman’s nets, so the custom began to burn them on the evenings of March 3rd to terminate the bad spirits. – Content source Wikipedia
Most families purchase a set of dolls the first year their daughter’s life. The dolls are often purchased by the grandparents since sets can cost hundred of thousands of yen. Sets of dolls can be from just two dolls (Emperor and Empress) to seven tiers of dolls. Since storage space is limited in Japanese homes, many families are now investing in smaller more compact sets today. You can also buy a wide selection at Amazon Japan or unique hand-crafts at Iichi.com. The dolls are exhibited in homes across Japan following Setsubun (February 2nd) until the evening of March 3rd. Although families no longer burn the dolls; superstition is that if you do not pack up by March 4th your daughter may marry late.
Great books to enjoy with your children in Japanese available on Amazon Japan.
Out and About Hinamasturi
If you are interested in learning more about Hinamatsuri, I highly recommend the following events, activities, and shopping.
Hinamatsuri, Girls’ Day
Did you enjoy this article? If yes, please sign-up for the Best Living Japan newsletter, so you don’t miss any great info. It easy to sign-up just click here, and enter your email.