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
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 ! ! !
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.
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.
Hina 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.
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