Japanese Traditional Holiday, Hina Matsuri (ひな祭り) 🎎 Japan's Girls' Day Celebration

Kanto Culture Hina matsuri 2019.02.28
A Day to Pray for the Health and Happiness of Young Girls in Japan🌷

🎎Japan's Doll Festival🎎 

Every year on March 3, families with daughters all over Japan celebrates a special day in Japanese culture, Hina Matsuri (Hina Festival). There are many different names, Hina Matsuri, Doll Festival, and Girls Festival, probably because they all relate to what the festival is all about. On this day, stunning Japanese hina dolls are set up to celebrate girls and to pray for their health and happiness. 

🎎History behind Japanese Hina Dolls🎎

While the history and culture of Hina Matsuri itself began in the Heian period (A.D. 794 to 1185), the actual displaying of Hina dolls that we see today began in the early 1600s as a way to ward off evil spirits. It was thought that the dolls would act as good luck charms, although many people now find them eerie. Which is probably due to the fact that the origin of the dolls was said to be used as a harness to transfer one's sins and misfortune to a doll and then removed by putting the dolls out to sea, being a substitute for the owner(s). Some areas in Japan still continue this tradition. Hina dolls are either handed down to the girls or a new set is bought from the grandparents. You can see people preparing for Hina Matsuri as early as February, but right after Hina Matsuri on March 3 the beautiful displays come down for superstitious reasons. It is believed that if you put away the dolls too late it could have effects on your daughter finding a husband.

🎎Hina Doll Tiered Platform/Stand​🎎

  • The tiered platform or stand for the hina dolls is called "Hina dan" (ひな壇).  It is normally a five to seven-tiered red carpet stand and each stand is decorated differently depending on the place/household in the sense that some include Japanese folding screens, realistic futon mattresses, lanterns, tea sets, etc. 

    There is also a specific order to each hinadan, that is supposed to be a representation of a Hian period wedding. While there are slight differences depending on the region, the basic order has the male "Odairi-sama" (御内裏様) holding a baton and female "Ohina-sama" (御雛様) holding a fan on the top tier. They are said to represent members of the imperial family. Below them are the "san-nin kanjo" (three court ladies), then on the third tier are the "gonin bayashi" (five musicians). From there it continues to trickle down to ministers, bodyguards, helpers, etc. 

🎎Foods of Hina Matsuri🎎

  • Chirashi sushi (ちらし寿司)
    Chirashi sushi (ちらし寿司)
    Chirashi sushi is a combination of the sugary-vinegared sushi rice topped with colorful raw fish and vegetables. "Chirashi sushi" translates to "scarred fish", and that is exactly what it looks like. While each household has their own chirashi sushi recipe, it is said to be a tradition to add shrimp because it symbolizes long life (until your body becomes bent over like the shrimp).
  • Hina Arare (ひなあられ)
    Hina Arare (ひなあられ)
    These puffed rice crackers are colored in said traditional Hina Matsuri hues of pink, green, yellow, and white. Each color is said to have a meaning, for instance, white expresses snow, green are tree buds, and pink expresses life. As a form of Japanese "wagashi" (traditional Japanese confectionery), they come in either round balls or more long oval like shapes, but both are one of the most common snacks during this time.
  • Shirozake (白酒)
    Shirozake (白酒)
    Shirozake (meaning white sake) is a sweet, white sake that is traditionally drunk during Hina Matsuri. It is similar to amazake (甘酒), which is also white and sweet but amazake is said to contain only a very small amount if not any alcohol (where shirozake has roughly 8-9%). Traditionally shirozake is drunk, but more and more recently people are changing to amazake due to the low/no alcohol content allowing even children to enjoy.

🎎One of a Kind Hina Matsuri Event🎎
・Katsuura Big Hina Matsuri​・

  • The Katsuura Big Hina Matsuri in Chiba is considered the most famous Girls' Day event in Japan with its some 30,000 displayed hina dolls in the city! Within the Katsuura there is a massive display of Hina Matsuri Dolls unlike anything we've ever seen before at Tomisaki Shrine. Earlier we said a normal tiered doll stand is from 5-7, however here at Tomisaki Shrine, there are 60 tiers and around 1800 dolls! It is simply beautiful. It is held yearly in late February to early March, so if you are in Tokyo around that time this is one festival you will not want to miss out on.

🎎Tomisaki Shrine
Google Maps
Tomisaki Shrine is just a short walk from Katsuura Station (勝浦駅) on the Sotobo Line (外房線).
It's about a 2 1/2 hour train ride from Tokyo Station, and there are two different ways of getting there.
❶Take the JR Sobu Line Rapid (総武線快速) from Tokyo Station to Chiba Station (千葉駅) and change to the Sotobu Line to Katsuura Station.
❷Take the JR Keiyo Line Rapid (JR総武線快速) from Tokyo Station to Soga Station (蘇我駅) and change to the Sotobu Line to Katsuura Station. 
💻Tomisaki Shrine HP (JPN)

🎎Japan's Hina Matsuri, Doll Festival, Girls' Day🎎

Japan's hina dolls are something that truly shows off the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship. The dolls are normally quite expensive, but we can see why one would want to keep such beautiful things in their houses. It's a shame that they are only brought out for this specific occasion. One of these days we hope to get some of our own.

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