Hina Matsuri – The Doll Festival and Girls Day

A Traditional Hina Matsuri Doll

A Traditional Hina Matsuri Doll

Hina Matsuri is the Doll Festival and the Girls Day, and is one of the nicest festivals we have in Japan. It is a very old festival and originated in the Heian period which is 794 to 1185. The purpose of the festival is to celebrate the joy that daughters bring to a family and to pray they grow and live in peace and happiness.  Of course with two daughters in our family when my sister and I were younger Hina Matsuri was a big deal in our home and something we always looked forward to very much

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雛祭り

A Traditional Hina Matsuri Display

Every family that has young girls will celebrate Hina Matsuri.  Normally in most houses dolls are displayed on a red background. (Red is an auspicious colour in our tradition)  Peach blossoms, sake, and rice cakes are placed on the stand with hina dolls as an offering to the gods.  The dolls used for this are really lovely and usually passed from one generation to the next.  Traditionally they represent the Emperor and Empress from the Hian period and are dressed in that style costume,  but these days there are some really cute modern ones also.  People display the dolls during the last weeks of  February until the day of the festival which is 3rd March.

During this period the girls will invite their friends to a party and presents are given to the girls and special sweets and deserts are made and eaten at these parties.  They are really a lot of fun ! ! !

菱 餅(化粧箱入)

Hishi Mochi

On the day of the festival, special food is prepared  Hishi-mochi diamond shaped rice cakes and are colored in pink (for peach flowers), white (for snow), and green (for new growth) and they symbolise the change from winter to spring.  Also flower sweets (which are sweets in the shapes of flowers) are given to the girls on this day and the girls will often dress in traditional clothes so they all look really super cute ! ! !

There is a special song that people song on this day called Ureshii Hinamatsuri The words to the song are:

Akari o tsukemashou bonbori ni

Ohana o agemashou momo no hana

Go-nin bayashi no fue taiko

Kyo wa tanoshii Hinamatsuri

In English this is:

Let’s light the lanterns

Let’s set peach flowers

Five court musicians are playing flutes and drums

Today is a joyful Dolls’ Festival

The video has some nice photos of the dolls and some typical Hina Matsuri things.  The song was recorded in 1936 and is a very nice version of the song.

Ureshii Hinamatsuri 

 Hina Nagash

Depending on the family the festival may include a visit to a Shinto shrine and the custom of Hina Nagashi may be followed.  My family is quite traditional and so we always did this as kids.

雛祭り 2Hina Nagashi is a very old custom and comes from the Shinto belief that spirits or demons that could bring bad luck or harm to to a person can be captured in a figure representing a spirit or demon and by floating the figure away on a river or the sea the they can be sent away.

So little paper dolls are made by the girls and spirits which could harm the girls or bring bad luck to them are captured in the little paper dolls. These are put on little straw boats and then either the girls sail the boats down the river taking the bad spirits with them or they are collected at a shrine and the Shinto Priest will send them all to sea in a boat with prayers for their safe passage to heaven where they can be in peace.

I think Hina Matsuri is a lovely tradition and something unique to Japan.  Unfortunately in much of Asia girls are not valued so much.  So on this day, I always think about less fortunate girls in these societies and I pray that all little girls every where can be celebrated and appreciated for the joy and happiness they bring to a home.

A Shinto Priest Blessing Boats of Hina Matsuri Dolls Before Sending Them To Sea

As it this is a music blog I should post a song.  I have chosen Doll by Scandal.  This is not actually about this festival at all, but is about not being treated like a doll which is pretty and nothing more really.  This was their first major label single and was written by the bass player when they were still in high school as a reaction to their teachers who did like them being in a band.

Thank you for reading the post and I hope you found it interesting ! ! !

Scandal  - Doll

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16 thoughts on “Hina Matsuri – The Doll Festival and Girls Day

  1. Ace – really must go Japan one of these days.

    The only US “tradition” is take your daughter to work day – which blows for all involved. Still at least it’s better than China.

    • Thank you Shoey ! ! ! I am pleased you found it interesting.

      It is very worrying and sad that girls are not valued so much in China but I hope this will change soon. Today is a day I always think about this.

  2. Great post Sakura. Thank you for sharing and explaining your culture to us. My sister’s birthday is 3rd March. I’m going to send her the link to this. She will find it interesting, I’m sure.

    • Thank you Maki ! ! ! I am really happy you liked it. I hope your sister finds it interesting also and I very flattered that you will send her the link ! ! !

      I hope she has a very happy birthday ! ! !

  3. This is lovely Sakura, I like the Ureshii Hinamatsuri song. Seeing the first picture made me think back, and I’m sure I had a Japanese doll when I was little. I have a feeling it was a special one for show rather than one I could play with. But I can’t imagine where it came from – or where it went! So perhaps it is out there celebrating somewhere!

    • Maybe your doll was a Hina Matsuri doll ! ! ! I hope it is celebrating with a family somewhere today ! ! !

      The song is really nice, it is like Jingle Bells or something like that as it is about the celebration and is not religious at all so everyone can enjoy it ! ! ! (although I am sure you know I am quite religious)

      I will try to find out more about the song as the guy that posted it did not really give much information, but I really liked it very much and I am very happy you liked it also ! ! !

  4. that was a lovely post Sakura.

    It is indeed a nice festival……although I don’t have a daughter (yet!) we’ve got the rice boiling for ‘chirashizushi’ as I write this !

    • I hope you do have a daughter one day ! ! ! But boys are fun to ! ! !

      I would love to have a daughter also actually one day ! ! !

      My cousin has four daughters and a son and their home is just so much fun with everything going on. I really like big families and hopefully one day I will be able to have a big family ! ! !

  5. I’m glad you posted this Sakura.
    I think I sent you the link for a story I read in a Japanese paper about a young girl who asked her father to send her dolls to the children in the areas affected by the tsunami.
    It was one of the most moving things I have ever read. I can’t imagine my lovely daughter being so thoughtful, ever !
    Perhaps I should have given her more dolls when she was little but knowing her she would have thrown them at me.
    Not a big “dolly” girl !

    • I remember the link you sent me and it was very moving. I think kids can be really so naturally kind and good that it can really move you to tears actually. (of course they can little horrors also ! ! !)

      These are difficult and emotional days as the anniversary becomes closer. But the kindness and generosity of people is something I really hope we do not forget.

  6. A bit late to this, but thanks for posting it, I really enjoyed reading and learning. Our Emma was five years old last month and she’s brilliant. We do need reminding of how lucky we are, because she can be very fussy about which parent she wants to help her, and get very upset if I make her lunch when she wanted mummy to do it. So we get annoyed but really shouldn’t. The strange thing about having children is that they can be really astonishingly clever one moment, and revert to their age (or younger) the next. Bewildering. I hope you get the chance to be a parent when the time’s right, I’m sure you’ll do it very well.

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