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Hina Matsuri: The Japanese Doll Festival

Hina Matsuri, also known as the Japanese Doll Festival or Girls’ Day, is celebrated on March 3 every year.

Hina are the special dolls for the occasion and matsuri is the Japanese word for a festival or holiday. Families and communities wish health and happiness for all girls on this special day.

Hina Matsuri

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Hina Dolls

Hina dolls are typically a gift from a girl’s grandparents for her first Hina Matsuri, or she may receive a set that has been passed down in her family. The dolls are beautifully detailed and represent the royal court.


Starting weeks before the festival, families display the dolls on a tiered stand called a hinadan that is covered with red cloth. The stand may have 5 or 7 tiers, with the the top tier reserved for the Emperor and Empress, followed by guardians, musicians, and servants.

The display also includes small meal dishes, small furniture pieces like chests and stands, and fresh peach blossoms.

Everything is to be put away quickly after March 3. Otherwise, according to legend, the girls in the family will marry late.

Hina Matsuri Preparation

Hina Matsuri Foods

Traditional food and drinks are an important part of the celebration.

hina arare

Hina-arare are sweet, bite-sized, colored rice snacks.


Chirashizushi, “scattered sushi,” is raw fish over sushi rice.

ushio-jiru (a clear clam soup)

Ushio-jiru is a clear clam soup. Clam shells are symbols of being united.


Hishi-mochi is layers of thin rice cakes – pink for chasing away evil spirits, white for purity, and green for health.


Shirozake (sweet white sake made from fermented rice) is a drink enjoyed by the adults, while the kids have the non-alchoholic version, amazake.

Hina Matsuri Activities


Photo Credits
  • hina-arare  by Arashiyama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
  • chirashi-zushi  by Arashiyama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons 
  • ushio jiru  flickr: Dylan Hardesty  
  • amazake  flickr: Yusuke Kawasaki

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