March 3 is Hina Matsuri, also known as the Doll Festival or Girls’ Day, when people pray for the happiness, healthy growth and success of girls.
In Japan, there is a tradition of displaying special dolls for Hina Matsuri on a tiered stand. The two most important dolls are the Emperor and Empress.
Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up the tiered stand inside the house, and they offer rice crackers and other food to the dolls. Dolls sets greatly vary in size and price. Some have a lot of dolls that are laid out on a 7 layer platform according to the status of each one. Others only have the Emperor and Empress, the two most important dolls. These days, it’s more common to have a small set in apartments.
Also, it was common that girls dressed up on this day in their best kimonos about a decade ago. Some girls would dress up like the dolls and have little parties. However, nowadays it’s more common to wear daily clothes and enjoy only displaying the dolls and eating some Hina Matsuri food.
What kind of food do you imagine when you hear “Hina Matsuri food”?
There are some traditional food for Hina Matsuri.
One of them is Chirashizushi. The word “Chirashi” means scattered, so it is basically made with sushi rice, mixed with eggs, vegetables, seafood and additional ingredients according to your choice.
Hishimochi is the most representative, traditional Hina Matsuri dessert. It is Wagashi, which means a traditional Japanese dessert. It is a layered rice-cake of pink, white, and green. Pink from gardenia symbolizes health and peach flowers. White from hishi symbolizes clean and snow. Green from yomogi symbolizes cleanse and vast land. Each layer has a wish for girls and describes the cycle of the spring season in Japan.
Girls are usually gifted the traditional snack called Arare. It looks fancy in light colors. Some call it just Arare, but others call it Hina Arare, since it’s especially eaten on Hina Matsuri.
Cherry blossoms are well known as flowers to represent Japan, but there are also peach blossoms. Cherry blossoms bloom in April, but the blooming of peach blossoms often coincides with the day of Hina Matsuri. If you come to Japan on Hina Matsuri, the flowers decorating Hina Matsuri are mostly peach flowers, called Momo no Hana.
Do you know there is a song for Hina Matsuri? You may hear Japanese people humming the Hina Matsuri song on this day.
あかりをつけましょ ぼんぼりにAkari wo tsukemasho bonbori ni
お花をあげましょ 桃の花 Ohana wo agemasho momo no hana
五人ばやしの 笛太鼓Gonin bayashi no fue daiko
今日はたのしい ひな祭りKyou wa tanoshii hina matsuri
Let’s light the lanterns on the tiered stand.
Let’s put peach blossoms on it as well.
Five court musicians are playing flutes and drums.
Today is a happy Dolls’ Festival.
We have a day for boys in May called Kodomo no Hi, which can be translated as the Children’s Day. However, a lot of decorations are for boys such as a warrior’s helmet, so many people think it is actually Boys’ Day. We will introduce the Kodomo no Hi culture around May as well.
I hope this blog helps you understand the Japanese Hina Matsuri more.
Have a great day!