Girls’ Day (Hinamatsuri)

The emperor and empress sit at the top of a Hina Matsuri display. A display with only the emperor and empress is called a shinnō kazari.

Today is Hinamatsuri (雛祭り) in Japan, sometimes referred to as Girls’ Day. It’s a very special holiday in Japan, dedicated to female children and their health and development. Preparations for the day usually begin in mid- to late-February when both families and businesses set up elaborate displays of hina ningyo (hina dolls). Elaborately crafted and dressed dolls are traditionally placed upon a hinadon, a red stepped display stand, with the emperor and empress at the top, and different courtiers, musicians, and their accessories displayed on the steps below. These displays (hinakazari) range from simple displays to elaborate multi-stepped affairs and are traditionally purchased by a girl’s grandparents. As soon as the festival ends these displays are quickly dismantled and put away as it is believed that leaving them out too long will damage a girl’s chance for a good marriage. 

Our granddaughter’s shinnō kazari. The wrapped packages in front are special Hinamatsuri crackers and candy for kids.
A traditional set and display of hina ningyo.
A simple, but elegant Hinamatsuri display of clay dolls. The two small dolls in front of the larger ones are also emperor and empress dolls!
I call this massive display, “Attack of the Hina Dolls.” The pink blossoms on the sides of the display are peach blossoms, as peaches are associated with the festival.

Special treats are enjoyed during this time, and pink, green and other pastel-colored crackers, candies, cakes, and even sushi can be found in stores and bakeries. These special treats are often eaten and enjoyed at Hinamatsuri parties.

A selection of pretty Hinamatsuri foods and treats.

6 thoughts on “Girls’ Day (Hinamatsuri)

  1. What a unique holiday. I love the display of “Attack of the Hina dolls” so much beauty and attention to detail.

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    1. It’s a lovely holiday – very special. We gave our granddaughter a bag of special crackers and a Minnie Mouse headband (that we found at the 100 yen store).

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    1. Older Hina dolls are highly prized and are collected, especially the emperor and empress. I learned the craft for making them, but just the basics – fancy dollmaking require skills way beyond what I could do. I would still love to own a pair of the antique emperor and empress but they’re very hard to find and very expensive. I especially love the somewhat wistful look on the female doll’s faces.

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