Hinamatsuri, also known as the Japanese Doll Festival or Girls’ Day, is celebrated every March 3. 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 dolls are typically a gift from a girl’s grandparents for her first Hinamatsuri, 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. The display should be put away quickly after March 3. Otherwise, according to legend, the girls in the family will marry late.
Hinamatsuri Celebratory Foods
- Hina-arare are sweet, bite-sized, colored rice snacks.
- Chirashizushi, “scattered sushi,” is raw fish over sushi rice.
- 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: Activity Suggestions
- Watch the preparation of a display.
- Make your own hina-ningyo display.
- Make hina dolls (paper and wooden peg).
- Make an Origami Hina Doll – with diagrams and animation.
- Read Yoko’s Show-and-Tell by Rosemary Wells.
- Research Japan’s geography and culture with our Country Research Project.