Hina Matsuri, also known as the Doll Festival or Girls' Festival, is a traditional Japanese holiday celebrated on March 3rd every year. It is a time for families to come together to celebrate the happiness and well-being of their daughters. The festival has a long and rich history, dating back to the Edo Period (1603-1868).
Families pray for the health and future happiness of their young girls, and to wish for their growth and success in life. The festival is a way for families to show their love and support for their daughters, and to celebrate the important role that girls play in society. It is also known as the Peach Festival (Momo no sekku) as it coincided with when the peach blossoms started to bloom back in the Heian Period.
How to celebrate Hina Matsuri in Japan
The Hina Matsuri celebration is filled with rituals and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of the traditions are:
Displaying Hina dolls in your home
Setting up a Hina Doll display is one of the most important parts of the Hina Matsuri celebration. The display is traditionally set up in your house and consists of tiers of dolls, accessories, and decorations. The dolls and accessories are carefully arranged to depict the imperial court, complete with a throne and courtiers.
These dolls are said to protect the children of the house and keep injuries and illnesses away. It is based upon an ancient Japanese belief that bad fortune and sickness can be transferred from a human to a doll, almost like a doll sacrifice. Back then they would create small paper dolls and float them down the river with a prayer to take away the misfortunes of the children.
Choosing the right dolls for the display is a personal choice. Dolls can range from simple, inexpensive sets to ornate, antique sets that are passed down from generation to generation and are treasured family heirlooms.
There are many different types of Hina Dolls, each with its own history and significance. The most important dolls are the emperor and empress dolls, which are placed at the center of the display. The emperor and empress are surrounded by court musicians, palace ladies, and other members of the imperial court.
The colors and designs of the Hina Dolls are also significant. The dolls are traditionally dressed in brightly colored attire, with red and white being the most important colors. The colors and designs are meant to bring happiness, good luck, and success to the girls being celebrated.
You should be sure to put the set away the day after Hina Matsuri as legend has it that keeping the dolls out will cause your daughter to marry late, although these days that is not such an issue!
Attending events in the community
Hina Matsuri is also a time for community events, such as parades and festivals.
Attending events in the community
Katsuura Big Hina Matsuri festival (February 24 - March 3) is the most well-known celebration of Girl's Day in Japan. It takes place in the charming coastal town of Katsuura in Chiba Prefecture and typically runs from the end of February to the beginning of March. During this time, the town is transformed into a wonderland of Hina Doll displays, with approximately 30,000 dolls on display in various locations. Visitors can also indulge in the sweet treats that are synonymous with the Hina Matsuri celebration, as there are many stalls selling these traditional delights.
Inatori Onsen in Shizuoka also has a Hina Festival, with thousands of dolls and handmade ornaments on display at the Culture Park Hina no Yakata.
In Tokyo, the Meguro Gajoen building has a famous Hundred-Steps Staircase covered in vintage dolls from Southern Japan.
Nagashi Bina is a traditional Japanese custom that is associated with Hina Matsuri. It involves floating Hina dolls down a river or stream, symbolizing the release of bad luck and the passing of the old year. This custom is often performed by families in rural areas or small communities, who gather together to make and decorate their Hina dolls, before setting them afloat in the river. The flow of the water is believed to carry away any negative energy and bring good luck to the community. In Tokyo, you can take part in this custom at the Edo Nagashi Bina Festival in Asakusa.
Eat special Hina Matsuri food
Food plays a big role in the Hina Matsuri celebration in Japan. Just as the Hina Doll displays are a central part of the festival, the foods consumed during the celebration are just as important. Here is a look at some of the delicious foods that are enjoyed during Hina Matsuri.
This is a type of rice cracker that is colored pink and white, which are the colors associated with Hina Matsuri. These small, crunchy snacks are often served as an accompaniment to tea, and are a staple of the Hina Matsuri celebration.
This is a type of sushi that is served in a bowl and is a popular dish for Hina Matsuri. The sushi is made with a variety of ingredients, including seafood, vegetables, and eggs, and is topped with bright pink and white pickled cherry blossoms.
This sweet treat is made by wrapping sweetened red bean paste around a whole strawberry. The combination of the sweet bean paste and the juicy strawberries is a delicious way to celebrate Hina Matsuri.
This is a tri-colored rice cake that is often served during Hina Matsuri. The cake is made with glutinous rice that is colored pink, white, and green, to represent the colors of the Hina Dolls. The cake is sweet and chewy, and is a delicious way to celebrate the festival.
The Hina Matsuri celebration is a time for families to come together to celebrate the happiness and well-being of their daughters. It is a way to pray for their health and future happiness, and to wish for their growth and success in life. Here's to all the girls of this world!
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