Held on the 3rd of March every year, Hina Matsuri is a day on which families across Japan wish for health and happiness for their young daughters. Perhaps most famous for the beautiful arrangements of hina-ningyo dolls that are displayed in homes or at certain shrines, Hina Matsuri means dolls’ festival. Hina Matsuri is not just about beautiful dolls, though. There’s also loads of delicious food too! So scroll down to learn all about the essentials you need to make a Hina Matsuri meal fit for an empress!
Thick and sweet, amazake is sort of like a non-alcoholic nigori sake for kids! Made with kome koji (the same stuff used in sake brewing), it’s never fermented long enough to become boozy, just enough for the flavour to develop. Hina Matsuri used to be celebrated closer to the start of April, when the plum blossoms would be in bloom. Hence it’s other name, Momo no Sekku or peach blossom festival! However, amazake is also really delicious warmed to keep out the chill now Hina Matsuri is celebrated in early March!
Is sushi cause for celebration or are celebrations a cause for sushi? Either way chirashi sushi is a very iconic Hina Matsuri dish. The combination of vegetables with lively colourful toppings give it a lovely spring feel and make it a great celebration dish!
Whether you’re repping east-side or west-side there’s hina arare for you! These tasty rice cracker snacks come in sweet variations for those who have a sweet tooth or are old school Kanto (the area near Tokyo). If you’ve got Kansai pride, you may be happy to know that hina arare there is popularly a sweet and savoury mix, for a little bit of both! Either way, they’re totally delicious for something so cute and refined looking with pastel shades! Plus, and this is a super secret, this year we have… Hello Kitty and Anpanman arare! Yes! How will you resist?
- Chocolate Hello Kitty Hina Arare
- Hello Kitty Snack Pack Hina Arare
- Anpanman Hina Arare Rice Cracker Mix
Sekihan has been enjoyed in Japan on special occasions for a very long time. Made these days with rice and beans, its cheerful pinkish colour helps to set a festive mood! Both healthy and filling, sekihan is enjoyed both sweet and savoury variations across Japan.
While we were out and about continuing our never ending quest to discover the coolest of the cool of all things Japanese, we spotted this!
A traditional hina-ningyo display, right in the heart of London! Even though we’ve lived in Japan for a few years, we never managed to see a display like this. Our roving photographer spotted this in the window of traditional Japanese wagashi sweet store, Minamoto Kitchoan. The dolls you can see in the photo are very expensive, heirloom items and are only displayed in the run up to and on the day of Hina Matsuri.
Many families can’t afford to have such a large set like this (or don’t have the room!), and may only have Empress and Emperor dolls. Alternatively many people may also choose to incorporate the tradition in different ways; making sushi in the shape of the Emperor and Empress or having a special Hina Matsuri cake with decorations representing the happy couple.
Are you celebrating Hina Matsuri this year? Why not experience a little bit of Japanese culture in your home with these lovely Hina Matsuri foods or maybe even your very own hina-ningyo display!?