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Hina Matsuri / ひな祭り / Doll’s Festival

What is Hina Matsuri?

Girls’ Festival on March 3

Hina Matsuri (ひな(雛)祭り/ Doll’s Festival) is a girls’ festival in Japan celebrated on March 3. It was originally a picnic event for children and also there was a custom of playing with dolls among noble girls in Heian Period (平安時代, 794-1185), and those two customs became the Doll’s Festival today.

Parents display the dolls to wish their daughters a healthy and happy life.

The dolls represent the emperor and empress, three court ladies and five musicians who all wear Heian Period costumes and are displayed on red tiers with peach blossoms, paper lanterns and confectioneries such as Hishimochi (菱餅), a rhombic rice cake.

It is said that your daughters’ marriage will be late if you don’t put away the displayed dolls right after March 3.

My parents didn’t do that and I am single now. Seriously.

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How to write “Doll’s Festival” in Japanese?

Normal Japanese: ひな祭り or 雛祭り

Hiragana: ひなまつり

Romaji: Hina Matsuri

Since is difficult to write, we often use ひな祭り 

What actually people do?

Today’s Hina Matsuri

Families who have a daughter/daughters put  a set of dolls (雛(ひな)飾り/ Hina Kazari) at their homes around a month before March 3.

Some families display a gorgeous set of dolls like the photo above, but these days most families have a simple and handy set of dolls (親王飾り/ Shin-no Kazari) which contains just two dolls (the emperor and empress).

My Hina dolls and me (decades ago…)

Some grandparents gift hina dolls to their granddaughter in the year they were born.

My grandmother and mother selected my Hina dolls and my grandfather bought them for me when I was born.

Three typical gifts from grandparents to grandchildren in Japan:

  • Hina dolls for girls, Gogatsu Ningyo (a doll for the Boy’s Festival in May) for boys.
  • Randosel, a special backpack for school kids.
  • Study desk in a kids’ room.

Where to see the dolls?

In Japan, many places from shopping malls to old towns/preserved districts hold their Hina Doll exhibits. Some are free to enter, so check them out in your area.

One of admission free exibits I visited. Takanashi(高梁) City, Okayama(岡山) Prefecture. 

Are you interested in purchasing some?

Click and check them on Amazon!

Pottery dolls:

Shin-no Kazari:

With three ladies:

Traditional complete set: