Hinamatsuri, otherwise known as Girls Day, is a traditional celebration stemming from Japan’s Heian Period (in other words, a very, very long time ago!).
It is celebrated on March 3, and traditionally, dolls are set out to mark the day. It is the day when families in Japan celebrate their daughters, and yes, there is also a boys/childrens day called Koinobori celebrated on May 5.
This is Sofia’s first Girls Day.
We set up the dolls this past weekend, and once the holiday passes, they will be taken back down. I hadn’t seen those dolls in such a long time, they brought back a lot of memories. The sights, the sounds, and the food.
As a small girl growing up in Japan, I remember setting up the dolls every year with my mother. I remember thinking of how ornate and beautiful these dolls were, what a wonderful holiday to celebrate me! Then we would usually have a dinner with chirashizushi. I can remember helping my mother mix the vinegar into the rice and fanning it until it was the perfect temperature and flavor. I loved ripping up the nori (dried seaweed) and garnishing the rice with a variety of toppings.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
My grandparents bought the doll set for me when I was born. These dolls are as old as I am, and now my mother, Sofia’s grandmother, will pass the dolls on to her. Perhaps in the future, if I have a grand daughter, I will have the chance to give them to her as well.
At the top tier overlooking all are the Emperor and Empress. The next tier, three court ladies, and below that five musicians. In some sets, there are even more dolls and tiers. The amount of dolls and the decor, can vary from family to family. It may seem very elaborate for just one day, but these displays are deeply rooted in tradition. These dolls represent the successes that every family wishes for their daughters, and rice cakes as well as sweet sake are made for the holiday.
Although Sofia is only a quarter Japanese, I still want her to know that part of her culture. My mother chose her middle name, Aya, in Kanji, it means “twill” or “woven together”. Growing up in Japan, the traditions, culture, and people all hold a very special place in my heart. I hope to be able to take Sofia to Japan someday so she can experience it all for herself.
We sing a song to mark Girls Day – you can hear it playing in the background of my video below:
Ākyāri o-tsuke māsho bonborini O-hānā o-agemasho momo no hana Gonin-bayashi no fue taiko Kyō wa tano shi hinamatsuri
Let’s light the lanterns Let’s arrange the peach flowers Five court musicians are playing flutes and drums Today is a joyful Dolls’ Festival
This is a video of my mother, Sofia and I setting up the dolls. Sofia is dancing to the music, it is adorable.