Hinamatsuri, the doll’s festival (March 3)

Hina-matsuri is a festival celebrated in Japan on 3rd March. Some parts of Japan have celebrations lasting for a month. Usually, it is celebrated in families with a girl child and hence it is considered as the Girl children’s festival.


Tsurushi Bina: These are roof hangings in which cute little dolls and other shapes made from special silk are hanged from threads. 

Hina doll Arrangement: As part of the festival, a set of dolls will be arranged in every family. The traditional doll arrangement is very costly, hence some houses will have only the two main dolls for celebrating Hinamatsuri.

Doll arrangement

The dolls are arranged in six or seven platforms based on the reduced priority of their social status beginning from the top. The upper two layers of dolls have twelve layers of Kimonos one over the other which shows their social priority. They are the Emperor, the Empress, and their close relations.

The topmost step has the Emperor(Odairisama: おだいりさま) and the Empress(Ohinasama: おひなさま). The Emperor has a baton in his hand and the Empress holds a fan. This step also has two lanterns on the edges and they are called Hibukuro. The second platform has three ladies holding different items in their hand and they are called San Nin Kanjou (さんにんかんじょ). The third line has five male musicians with their instruments. They are called Go nin Bayashi (ごにんばやし). The fourth step has the ministers named Udaijin(うだいじん) and Sadaijin(さだいじん) who are two Samurais with their weapons. A Mandarin orange tree and a cherry tree is also set below them but on the fifth platform. In between them, there are three people called San-nin Jougo (さんにんじょうご) with faces of various expressions – anger, sadness, and happiness. The last platforms contain some small jewel boxes, carriages etc. and two Kimonos at the bottom.

Customs and traditions

Hina-Nagashi(Doll floating): Girls usually floats Hina dolls in rivers with the belief that bad lucks will be washed away. Some shrines observe this ritual as a big event in which boats of Hina dolls are floated in rivers and further burned.

Food and snacks: Chirashizushi is the special food associated with Hinamatsuri. Rice decorated with vegetables, seafood etc. adds a colourful appearance to the festive occasion.

Chirashizushi: Photo by 5th Luna on Flickr

Special Arare in pink, white and green colours are presented tot eh Girl children on this festival day.

Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba on Flickr

We can see lots of snacks mixed with these colours being sold at the racks of the supermarkets and other shops during the Hinamatsuri season. Hishimochi is the Japanese traditional sweet especially served during the Hinamatsuri celebrations. These are diagonally shaped mochi with three layers of pink, green and white colours. 

Huge doll arrangements will be made in some Japanese shrines during the month. The arrangement and the appearance of the Hinamatsuri dolls are really attractive. There is another children’s day festival meant for the boys called Koi no bori, celebrated on May 5.