Welcome to Kiki and Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Blog! The blog that teaches you parts of Earth culture and Japanese language. This article’s topic: What is Hinamatsuri?
Hinamatsuri, 雛祭り, literally translates to (hina) doll festival, but it is better known as Girls’ Day or Dolls Day. On 3 March of every year, in some Japanese households, you might see a large or small display of dolls dressed in Heian era royal Japanese court garb. Around mid-February or around the beginning of March, young girls and their mothers set up the layered royal court scene on the hinadan, 雛壇 / a tiered shelving stand to display what are known as hinanin’gyou, 雛人形 / hina dolls. In the coming days leading up to Hinamatsuri, girls and families hold parties that serve pastel coloured foods. During Hinamatsuri, families wish for health and happiness for their daughters. It’s a time where honour is given to the family’s girls and gives a sense of appreciation.
If one were to have the full set of hina dolls, the display would include up to seven platforms and could cost thousands of dollars. But, there’s no shame with one tier—As a matter of fact, many homes usually only have one or two tiers. These dolls are usually passed down from generation to generation, but again, they’re usually only set up from mid-February or the beginning of March to the day of Hinamatsuri. So with that being said, spending thousands of dollars to collect the entire set just might not be in everyone’s budget.
The main dolls you’ll see are the top tier couple of obina, 男雛 / male doll, and mebina, 女雛 / female doll, which mirrors both a traditional Heian era wedding or an emperor and empress. Together, they’re known as dairibina,内裏雛, imperial palace dolls. There is usually a golden byoubu, 屏風 / folding screen, behind them. In all, the tiers are filled with many dolls and accessories as well as small faux plants for decor. If one has every tier, it’s definitely something one would want to begin setting up earlier in February so that there’s a proper amount of time to enjoy it all.
Fun Phone Fact: On your smart phone, you might have an emoji that corresponds with hinamatsuri. Ususally, this is two hina dolls, and some people may not know what this emoji is for, but if you type「 雛祭り」this will come up as a suggestion:「🎎」– So, now you know! It’s obina, 男雛 and mebina, 女雛~
Some think of hinamatsuri in the way of the old superstition– in which forgetting to put the dolls away, leaving the hina doll display out until the day after hinamatsuri, 4 March, means their daughter’s marriage will be delayed or they will marry past their ‘prime’; but we like to think of it as a day where girls get to be princesses and have the focus shifted on them for a while. But, the superstition of a delayed marriage could have cropped up from the fact that it becomes rainy and damp right after hinamatsuri and leaving them out might damage the dolls in the humidity. Though, nowadays, it’s more and more common to marry later or not to marry at all, so perhaps this notion isn’t at the forefront of minds. But, this idea is a reason why the parties are usually held before 3 March.
Oddly enough, while hinamatsuri is a fun and anticipated holiday for many Japanese girls as well as their mothers, and despite being steeped in ancient tradition, it’s not an official national Japanese holiday. However, it’s celebrated all over the Earth with many families continuing tradition, or simply enjoying a facet of Earth culture. Either way, it’s a fun time to get together with school mates, eat daifuku-mochi, do crafts, play games, and enjoy the short time you have with that year’s hinaningyou display.
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