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NILS Blog Hinamatsuri

Hello, everyone. Have you ever heard of a Japanese traditional event called Hinamatsuri?

In Japan, parents of daughters display hina dolls in March and pray for their children to grow up healthily.






Hinamatsuri was introduced to Japan from China during the Nara period (710-794). It was celebrated only among the aristocracy at first, but the current form took place between the end of Edo period and Showa period. It is now celebrated among ordinary citizens.

The Emperor and Empress dolls are usually called Odairisama and Ohinasama. Strictly speaking, the male doll should be named Otono-sama because these hina dolls are modeled after an Imperial wedding ceremony.

People celebrate Hinamatsuri, also known as “Peach Festival,” by decorating hina dolls with cherry blossoms, peach flowers, hina-arare (rice crackers), and diamond shaped mochi. Since people believe that these hina dolls shoulder hardships and sufferings instead of the actual girls, sweets are offered to them as a token of gratitude.

Most of the sweets are white, pink or green—white means prosperity of descendants and longevity, red for vitality and protection from evil, and green for health and protection from evil.






On a tiered hina doll set, you can see other people in addition to the Odairisama and Ohinasama. These other members include five musicians (goninbayashi) and three courtesans (sannin kanjo). The musicians on the bottom tier, holding flutes and drums, play traditional Japanese music for the wedding celebration. The courtesans are responsible for taking care of the wedding ceremony. They serve sake to the couple using a ladle with a long handle. A kanjo is a lady who serves Ohinasama since she was a small child and follows her after the wedding to continue her service.

Parents of a baby girl probably display hina dolls wishing their daughter’s health and happy marriage. There is a saying that if you leave Hinamatsuri decorations past March 3rd, the girl won’t be able to get married. Obviously, people have a variety of ideas about marriage nowadays, but they still enjoy beautifully decorated hina dolls.

There are many different kinds of Hina dolls. You can also visit Hinamatsuri events and festivals in some areas. I hope you have a chance to attend such an event.


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