Japanese families with daughters celebrate Girls’ Festival on March 3rd. The origin of the festival is not very clear but it was started over one thousand years ago. They started celebrating Girls’ Festival in March at around 16th century.
1. Hina Dolls for Girls’ Festival Day
Girls’ Festival or Hina Matsuri in Japanese became popular in 17th century and families of feudal lords exhibited luxury dolls called Hina Dolls. Usually, people exhibit one pair of Hina Dolls; prince and princess. But since I have several versions of Hina Dolls, I put them all on the table for Hina Matsuri.
2. Exhibition of Hina Dolls
Here is a typical set of dolls for Girls’ Festival. As you can see, Prince and Princess sit on top of the steps. Three maids often sit and stand in the second row. In some cases, there are more rows after the maids. They are for five male musicians and two ministers.
Furthermore, the dolls are often exhibited with miniature furniture. In the photo below, too, you can see some furniture. The furniture typically include drawers, chests, dresser, tiered food boxes, sewing box, etc. These are what bride brought from her house to bridegroom’s house when they got married.
In this photo, you can also see tricoloured rice cakes set in front of p\Prince and Princess. They are special cakes for Girls’ Festival, called Hishi Mochi, which means “diagonal cakes”.
Sometimes, a set of Hina Dolls is even larger than this.
3. Girls’ Festival in Hikawa-cho, Kumamoto
Recently I visited Kumamoto Prefecture which is in a southern part of Japan in Kyushu Island. There, I had an opportunity to see a stunning collection of Hina Dolls.
A small town called Hikawa-cho in Kumamoto has an extensive collection of Hina Dolls which counts as many as 3,000. Annually, they celebrate Girls’ Festival, exhibiting those dolls. Many of the dolls were from Edo Period of 17th and 18th century and they came from all over Japan.
Throughout Japan, there are many different kinds of Hina Dolls. So let’s see the exhibition in Hikawa-cho.
Girls’ Festival is long-lasting Japanese culture. The unique part of the festival is that you can see the fashion of old days in the costumes of Hina Dolls.