Girl’s Festival

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March 3 is Japanese Girl’s Day called hina matsuri (hina doll festival) or momo no sekku (peach flower festival).

A set of hina dolls wearing kimono is displayed at homes of Japanese girls.

It’s the day to pray for girls’ happiness and health, eating special food, such as chirashi-zushi (colorful sushi), clam soup , sakura mochi (sweet rice cakes), and more.

The general word for the girls’ day ningyo is hina (also ohina, and the combination form -bina, as in tachibina, “standing hina,” or dairi-bina, the seated royal pair who feature in most displays) and the festival is known as Hina Matsuri (though its proper name may be Momo no Sekku, or Peach Festival).

A few weeks before the festival, girls and their mothers take out the hina and arrange them on a red cloth which may cover a structure, the hina-dan, with as many as 7 steps, each with its own designated set of hina: the Emperor and Empress at the top, three ladies serving them sake on the next step, then five young musicians, two “guardians” with weapons, and three servants; also included may be toy trees, perhaps made of semi-precious stones, and various toy implements representing a dowry (small chests, carts, and so on). Girls play hostess to their friends, and also to the ningyo, who are “fed” in tiny dish sets.