The Doll Festival
(March 3rd)

●雛祭り Hina-matsuri; the Doll Festival; the Girls’ Festival
●雛人形 Hina-ningyo; Hina dolls
●内裏雛 (a pair of) Dairi-bina; the Emperor and the Empress
●三人官女 Sannin-kanjo; (a set of) three ladies-in-waiting of the court
●五人囃子 Gonin-bayashi; (a set of) five court musicians
●随身(ずいじん) Zuijin; two retainers
●衛士(えいし;えじ) Eishi; Eji; a set of three court guards; a set of three court officials
●雛壇 Hina-dan; special doll stand
●金屏風 golden folding screen
●ぼんぼり bombori; a pair of paper-covered stand lamps;
a pair of lamps with paper shades
●左近のさくら a cherry tree on the left
●右近の橘 a mandarin orange tree on the right
●菱餅 hishi-mochi; diamond-shaped rice cakes; lozenge rice cakes
●白酒 white sake containing rice malt
●雛あられ hina-arare; sweetened puffed rice; sweet rice cracker

Hina-matsuri is a traditional festival to celebrate a girls’ growth and good health on March 3rd.

Many families with little daughters celebrate by displaying Hina-ningyo on Hina-dan (a special doll stand).

Hina-dan is built with 5 or 7 shelves and covered with a scarlet felt mat.

Dolls are dressed in beautiful court costumes of the Heian period (794-1191).

A pair of Dairi-bina, the Emperor and the Empress, are displayed in front of a golden folding screen on the top shelf.

In the Kanto district, people display Otoko-bina (the Emperor), on the left, and Onna-bina (the Empress), on the right from the viewer’s perspective.

In Kyoto, people traditionally display them in reverse order; Otoko-bina on the right, and Onna-bina on the left from the viewer’s perspective.

Three ladies-in-waiting are on the second shelf, 5 musicians are on the third shelf, 2 retainers are on the fourth shelf, and 3 guards are on the fifth shelf.

Miniature household goods and an ox-drawn carriage are displayed on the lower shelves.

These days, Hina-ningyo have become smaller and simpler because of the limited space in many homes.

More and more people have a set of Hina-ningyo consisting of only Dairi-bina, the Emperor and Empress.

There is a legend that if people don’t put Hina-ningyo away soon after Hina-matsuri is over, a girl will lose her chance to get married when she grows up.

People enjoy drinking shiro-zake (white sake containing rice malt), eating hishi-mochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) and hina-arare (sweetened puffed rice).

Hishi-mochi commonly consists of three layers; pink, white, and green, from top to bottom.

It is said that pink represents a peach flower, white represents snow, and green represents grass.

The basic colors of hina-arare are pink, white and green, and modern hina-arare can be sugar-coated or chocolate-coated.

A typical Hina-matsuri feast is chirashi-zushi (sushi rice mixed and topped with vegetables and seafood) and hamaguri-no-osumashi (clear clam soup).

People once regarded a bivalve, such as a clam, as a symbol of a woman’s chastity.

The origin of Hina-matsuri dates back to the Heian period.

People believed that they could drive away evil spirits if they made dolls, wrote their names on them and floated them down the river.

Nagashi-bina, the custom of floating dolls down the river, still remains in some regions.


(Please see “Our Doll Festival Experience“, “Chikugo-Yoshii HINA Doll Tour” in Yoshii-Machi, Ukiha-Gun, Fukuoka Prefecture, and “Yanagawa Girl’s Hanging Decoration Tour” in Yanagawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture for further information.)

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