March 3rd is cerebrated as Girl’s Festival called “Hina-matsuri” in Japan. Although it is not designated as a national holiday, it is commonly cerebrated for the family with girls.Hina-maturi is translated to “Dolls Festival”, because families with girls display Hina-ningyo, or Hina-dolls, at their homes to pray for girls’ healthy growth and happiness. Hina-dolls are believed to take away the bad luck of the girl who owns them.
What is like Hina-dolls ?
Hina-dolls depict the Imperial Court in the Heian period which is the 8th century to the 12th century. Each hina-doll wears the Heian period costume. Main 2 dolls represent the Emperor and the Empress and the other dolls are their servants.
Seven-tiered Hina-dolls set is gorgeous one for an ordinary household. It includes the Emperor(odairi-sama), the Empress(ohina-sama), three court ladies(sannin-kanjo), five court musicians(gonin-bayashi), the minister of the left(sa-daijin), the minister of the right(u-daijin) and three servants(sannin-jougo).
Families often buy a new set of dolls when the first daughter is born. The dolls cost a lot. The grandparents tend to bear an expense for their granddaughters. In the past, it was not common for the new brides to take their hina-dolls-set with them when they get married and it is said to be better for each girl to have own set of hina–dolls. These caused from the belief that dolls take away the bad things of the girl who owns them.
As a result, many hina-dolls sets remain at Japanese houses as valuable possession. If the time comes when people cannot keep them any more for some reasons, people customarily bring them certain temples or shrines to burn and pray for their dolls, showing their appreciation and affection for their unconditional friends, rather than merely discarding them. This custom is called Ningyo-kuyo, memorial service for the dolls.
People eat Chirashi-sushi and Hina-arare.
Several special food are enjoyed for Doll Festival. Major one is Chirashi-sushi, Scattered sushi which is a kind of sushi in a bowl. We scatter some fish or seashell on vinegared rice, and also use lotus roots, thin strips of fried eggs, dried seaweed, salmon roe and so on to make it beautiful on eyes and tasty.
The ingredients are different depending on the regions, but some have auspicious meanings, for example, prawn has the meaning of longevity and lotus roots represent good future as you can see though from the holes of them.
Young girls love to eat Hina-arare. Hina-arare are sweet cubic rice crackers with the color of pink, green, yellow and white. Each color represents spring, summer, autumn and winter. It symbolizes the prosperous year for the girls.
Dolls festival is also called Momo-no-sekku, the Peach Festival. The blossoms of peach tree are essential for this festival.
Some people have Hamaguri (common oriental clam) soup representing intimate relationship between a couple and enjoy drinking Shiro-zake(White-sake）for adult and Ama-zake(Sweet-sake）for children.
Nagashi-bina, floating Hina-dolls, the origin of the festival.
Some regions still keep ancient style of doll festival called Nagashi-bina, said to be the origin of present doll festival. People make a pair of paper dolls, a boy and a girl, and float them down to the river. Why? It is believed that misfortunes of the children are transferred to the paper dolls, so they abandon the dolls to the river with gratitude for misfortunes to be taken away from their children.
Dolls Festival are held nationwide in Japan. Some regions are famous for Tsurushi-bina, hanging hina-dolls, some hold The Big Hina Matsuri festival with the idea of gathering unwanted hina-dolls from all over Japan, displaying gigantic multi-tiered hina-dolls stand and introducing various types of local hina-dolls. Finding out unique doll festival would be a lot fun for you!