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Girl's Day Hina doll a cultural legacy

by Yuka Suzuki, staff writer

Japanese Girl’s Day, or as it is known in Japan, Hina Festival, is celebrated with Hina dolls on March 3. Girl’s Day preserves Japanese tradition and is a significant festival that encourages unamarried girls to pray for growth and happiness. Hina dolls are Japanese cultural legacy and most homes with girls display them.

Girl’s Day is also a seasonal celebration of the peach blossom festival. It is one of the five seasonal Japanese festivals, including Boy’s Day and the Star Festival. A peach blossom is a seasonal flower, and originally people believed that a peach blossom was a talisman that would protect them from disease.




The Hina doll tradition originated during the Heian period (794-1185) and the styles of the dolls changed during the Edo period (1603-1867). A full Hina doll display is a five or seven step arrangement, about 75 inches tall covered by a red carpet. The emperor and empress dolls are on the top step, three court ladies are on the second step, five musicians are on the third step, guardsmen are on the fourth step, and miniatures of tableware are on the two lowest steps. All the dolls wear ancient-style costumes. Some of the steps include Hichimochi, which is a pink, white, and green diamond-shaped rice cake.

Girl’s Day is also celebrated with special food and drinks: Hina Arare, which are small rice biscuits, Sakura mochi, which is cherry blossom flavor of mochi with Azuki beans, and Shirozake, which is white sake.

Traditionally, the full Hina doll set is popular and some families use the same Hina doll set from generation to generation. These days, because the full set is so expensive, some families display only three steps of Hina dolls or the emperor and empress dolls alone.


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