February 2017


The Doll Festival

In Japan, the hinamatsuriひなまつ, or doll festival, is held on March 3rd to celebrate and pray for the health and happiness of one's daughters. The modern hinamatsuri can trace its roots back to the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868). The tradition stems from a combination of traditional doll play and the much older practice of nagashi-binaながびな, which involves transferring one’s bad luck to a paper doll and allowing it to be washed away in a river. Another name for the hinamatsuri is momo-no-sekkuももせっ, or peach festival. Peach blossoms, which symbolize a happy marriage, are an important motif in hinamatsuri decorations.


The hinamatsuri is also a day when the women of the household can relax and enjoy delicious food all day. Typical treats include small multi-colored rice crackers called arareあられ, pink, white, and green diamond-shaped rice cakes called hishimochiひしもち, bowls of vinegared rice topped with sushi and cut vegetables called chirashizushiちらし寿, and clam soup. Sweet shirozakeしろざけ and non-alcoholic amazakeあまざけ are also popular drinks.

While everyone enjoys the food and drinks, the main attraction is the elaborate display of porcelain dolls called hina-ningyoひなにんぎょう. These dolls are arranged on tiered platforms made for displaying the dolls called hinadanひなだん. The top step is where the dolls representing the emperor (obinaびな) and empress (mebinaびな) are placed. A typical seven tier hinadan has three ladies-in-waiting below the emperor and empress, followed by five young musicians, two court ministers, three servants, and tools, furniture, and carriages on each successively lower tier.

Hina-Ningyo Dolls

Web Japan

There will be a seven tier hina-ningyo display open to the public in the Japan Information Center Gallery at the Consulate General of Japan in New York between Friday, February 17 and Monday, March 27. Gallery hours are 9:30 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. We are closed on weekends and holidays. We kindly ask that you bring a photo ID for access to the building.

Japan Info is a publication of the Consulate General of Japan in New York. However, the opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.

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