Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hina Matsuri: The Doll Festival

While still the 2nd here in the States, today in Japan is now March 3, known as the Doll Festival (hinamatsuri, "hee-nah mah-tsoo-ree" 雛祭り) or Girls' Day. Households with girls display a set of special dolls dressed in Heian-style clothing representing the Emperor, Empress and other attendants and items sitting on different levels of a platform set. Special foods are also eaten, like hina-arare, a multicolored snack candy which can be found by the bag in any grocery store in the weeks leading up to the 3rd.

Doll sets can be anywhere from really expensive and elaborate, costing thousands of dollars and taking up nearly an entire wall's worth of space with seven levels of dolls, down to the cute, non-traditional $20 hackeysack-style Emperor and Empress pair that made it back to America with me.

The one below features the rulers and their female attendants, with royal household goods for traveling (mini palanquin, stacking bento boxes, and ox-drawn carriage) on the third level.

Several of my adult students in Japan told me that when they were children, they hated passing through the room with the dolls in them at night because the dolls creeped them out in the dark, and others told me that it's important the dolls be put away promptly after the holiday or the daughter in the house will be jinxed and unable to find a husband quickly (or according to some, ever!).

Images copyright Katorisi.

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