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Hinamatsuri: Girl's Day


On March 3rd, it is Hinamatsuri in Japan. This festival is known as Japanese doll festival or girl's day. On this day, families with girls will celebrate and pray for their growth and happiness. Japanese ornamental dolls representing the emperor, empress, musicians and royal attendants dressed in court attires from the Heian period are displayed on a tiered platform with red carpet during this festival.

The tradition of doll display began in the Heian period, as it was formerly believed that dolls have the power to contain bad spirits. This custom also arose from another related traditional practice known as hina-nagashi in which hina dolls made from straws are sent floating on a boat down river to sea. It was believed that they take troubles and bad spirits with them.

The Shimogamo shrine in Kyoto floated dolls between the Kamo river and Takano rivers to pray for the safety of children. But because the fishermen kept catching dolls in their nets as a result of this practice, dolls are no longer floated down rivers.

Hinamatsuri continues to be celebrated in Japan today. And all families with girls still celebrate this festival to pray for the happiness and growth of the girls.

Today, dolls are floated out at sea. After the festival celebration, boats are taken out of the water and brought back to the temple to be burnt.

In individual households, the display of ornamental dolls follow a set order, with the emperor and empress on the first tier, followed by three court ladies, five musicians, two ministers and samurais and protectors of the emperor and empress on the fifth tier. The sixth tier generally holds miniature furniture and items use within the royal residence, and the seventh tier, the base, contains transportation and other items used outside of the royal residence.

A sake fermented from rice known as shirozake is drank on girl's day. Snacks known as hina arare a colored bite size cracker flavored with sugar and soy sauce as well as chirasizushi, sushi rice flavored with sugar, vinegar and topped with raw fish, seafood and other ingredients are served during this festival.



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