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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 is the special doll 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.

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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 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-alcoholic version, amazake.

Hina Matsuri Activities

Yoko's Show and Tell

When Yoko’s grandparents send her a beautiful antique doll named Miki all the way from Japan, Yoko couldn’t be happier. She places Miki on her red carpet and brings her candy until Girls’ Festival on March 3. Even though Mama said no, Yoko decides to sneak Miki to school for show-and-tell. How could she have guessed that Miki would be in an accident along the way?  Looks like a trip to the Doll Hospital is in order!

Go Further!

Learn about another Japanese celebration, Shichi-Go-San.

Explore our Japan Profile page for a detailed country map, infographic, photo gallery, informational video, book suggestions, learning activities, and more!

Discover Japan’s geography and culture with our interactive Country Research Project for young explorers.

Japan Research Project

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
Hina Matsuri