Hinamatsuri – Japanese Girl’s Day

Hinamatsuri is a special ceremony celebrated annually on the 3rd of March in Japan. The day is specially reserved for girls, and parents usually take it as a day to pray for the future of their daughters.

Hinamatsuri or Girl’s Day as it has become affectionately known as, is well recognised through the display of the traditional hina-ningyo dolls. The dolls are usually displayed in certain shrines and homes; currently we have a wonderful display of hina-ningyo dolls at Japan Centre Piccadilly on Shaftsbury Avenue – come in and have a peek at our dolls, straight from Japan.

The custom of displaying dolls on Girl’s Day has been around since the Heian period. Many families start to display their dolls in late February and then promptly take them down after the festival as superstition believes that, if not taken down by the 4th of March, the daughters will be spinsters or become ‘victims’ of late marriage.

The displaying of the hina-ningyo dolls symbolises the girls being prayed for by their parents as well as their innocence and progression into becoming young women. As a result the dolls are usually well dressed and looked after, not only as cultural courtesy but as a sign of affection. In the past, people believed that the dolls were possessed by bad spirits and so in displaying them, hoped to protect their daughters.

Hina-ningyo dolls are usually displayed across seven descending tiers or platforms with the imperial dolls displayed on the foremost tier at the top.

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Full image credits: opencontent / David Wiley. This image was originally posted to Flickr by opencontent at http://flickr.com/photos/19897594@N00/393606590. It was reviewed on 1 April 2008 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

To help you celebrate Hinamatsuri, we’ve created traditional recipes available at japancentre.com. Try our simple and easy to make mini meals and get in on the celebrations of this centuries old Japanese tradition.