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  • 執筆者の写真April Dykes

Let's learn about Hina Matsuri! ひな祭り!


Hina Matsuri, or Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day, is an annual holiday celebrated every March 3rd.  This day focuses on female children and celebrates their health and happiness.  The additional name, Doll’s Day, comes from the use of Hina dolls. 

Hinamatsuri is a Shinto holiday that focuses on praying for the health, prosperity, and happiness of girls under the age of 10.  After a baby girl survives her first year, the family can celebrate Hina Matsuri.  Families with young daughters will display hina dolls on an altar covered in a red carpet known as dankake. 

The Hina dolls, which are special dolls only displayed during Hina Matsuri, are displayed from mid/ late February until March 4th.  Hina displays can have anywhere from one to seven tiers. The purpose of the Hina dolls is to absorb bad luck and misfortune that would otherwise be directed at the girls. 

Before the hina display became popular, it was a common tradition to float hina dolls down the stream so they could carry away the female children’s bad luck and misfortune.  However, there are still some shrines where you can float dolls down a stream or river.

There are seven tiers because seven is a lucky number.  The most important tier is the top, consisting of a prince and a princess.  Without this important tier, your display can’t be called a hina set. 

The second tier, sannin kanjo, has three servants.  They are meant to serve the prince and princess.  Each one carries a different object; a sake bottle, platter etc. 

The third tier, gonin bayashi, are the five musicians.  Their role is to play music for the prince and princess.  Each musician has a different instrument. 

The fourth tier, suijin, has the guardians, who are sometimes depicted as samurai or ministers. 

The fifth tier, shicho, has three servants.  Their role is to do chores.  They are depicted as having brushes, rakes, etc.  Sometimes, they hold samurai equipment, but they are still called servants. 

The sixth and seventh tiers include various things: mini drawers, furniture, instruments, etc. 

Hina dolls can be pretty expensive.  A five-tier set could cost between $1,500 to $2,500.  Hina dolls are sometimes passed down as family heirlooms or gifted by grandparents.  Hina displays are commonly decorated with peach blossoms and cherry blossoms. 

The traditional colors associated with Hinamatsuri are green, pink, yellow, and white.  Green represents spring, pink represents summer, yellow represents fall, and white represents winter.  Those colors can be seen in the snacks enjoyed on the day: arare, puffed rice crackers, hishi-mochi, pounded rice cakes, chirashi-zushi, and amazake, a non-alcoholic sake.  Arare are particularly important because they are also used in hina doll display decorations.  

Have you ever celebrated Hina Matsuri before? Did you learn something new? Leave a comment below or share with us your Hina Matsuri stories! Don't forget to subscribe for more blog post updates about holidays, events and Japanese culture news!






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