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Fri Mar 1, 2019, 08:24 PM

March 3rd, Hina Matsuri. Japanese Festival for Girls

Today, I leave to visit the family in Japan. Wife and girls have been living there for the past year, I move later in March. But, that's for another post.
March 3rd is Hina Matsuri, the Doll Festival. Hina Matsuri dates back to the Heian Era, it is about one thousand years old and it is a day for girls. This will be their first one.

Preparations for the festival and some activities have already begun.

Hina Matsuri is a day for families to pray for the well-being and success of their young daughters. The girls will present the dolls on a five tiered platform; on the Top Tier will go two dolls, the Dairi-bini, the Imperial dolls, though they do not represent the Imperial Family (all the girls received a pair of these from their grandfather when they were born. But, we bought new ones for this event)
the Second Tier the Court Ladies (3 dolls) called the San-nin Kanjo,
Third Tier is the Go-nin Bayashi, the musicians(5 dolls: four hold instruments and one holds a fan),
Fourth Tier Guardians and Ministers (2 dolls with other ornaments) called theDaijin,
Fifth Tier helpers and protectors (three dolls), called the Shijo,
The Sixth Tier items used in the palace, seventh tier items used outside the palace.
The full platform and dolls are rather expensive (we paid almost $10,000 for a set). But it is their first Hina Matsuri and it is an important cultural event. The display will also be used every year, rather than just once.
We live in Kanagawa and there will be many events in the area to celebrate. By tradition the dolls are placed in boats and set out into the water. The girls will make paper and/or straw dolls as well and set them adrift with their friends from school. This is symbolic of carrying away their imperfections and impurities.

In addition to the dolls, Shirozake (white rice wine), Hishi Mochi (three layered rice cake), and peach blossoms will also be displayed with the dolls.
Hishi mochi has three symbolic colors: White represents the pure and cleansing snow; the pinkish-red color to symbolize peach blossoms; and green represents the coming of spring. The cake's rhomboid shape is the symbol of fertility.
Eaten on Hina Matsuri is Chirashizushi, sushi with clam soup, and hina arare a rice cracker that is only sold for Hina Matsuri.

If you're ever in Japan, I am told that Katsuura Big Hina in Chiba is the biggest and best of the Hina Matsuri Festivals. Over 40,000 dolls are displayed in five areas around the city. The temples, businesses, schools and community groups place dolls in one of the five locations. Some dolls displayed are over one hundred years old. (maybe next year we'll go)

Tokyo has the Hyakudan Hina Matsuri. The Edo Nagashi Bina includes the tradition of setting the dolls adrift in the Sumida River.

Although the event is for younger girls (about 11 and under), all of ours will participate this year because it is their first time. Prior to living in Japan, we lived in Korea, and school begins on March 1st, so we could never take them. Some of the older girls friends are participating with them. So, it will be fun.

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