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Get Dolled Up at Toride’s 12th Annual Hina Matsuri Festival

Toride City will be hosting its annual Hina Matsuri Festival with over 90 hina dolls on display.

By 4 min read 5

On March 3rd of each year, people throughout Japan observe a long-standing custom of praying for the health and happiness of girls in a festival called Hina matsuri. “Girl’s Day”, is a celebration where girls take center-stage and become “princesses” of their household as they relish in a lavishly displayed arrangement—the most extravagant being a seven-tiered doll stand—of fifteen fancy figurines called Hina-ningyos (ningyo being the word for “doll” in Japanese).

While these intricately crafted ceramic dolls—decked out in full courtly attire—are fit for a princess, it should come as no surprise that they falter on a pauper’s budget. Furthermore, it may come as another surprise that, while these dolls are modeled after the ancient imperial court, the actual custom of “doll-displaying” did not take place until the Edo Period (1603-1868).

As this custom flourished in popularity, Japanese doll artisans also grew in number and, to this day, their artistry showcases a thriving example of Japanese craftsmanship. Leaving no absence to detail, these ornamental dolls come in a variety of styles reflected in their attire (the most common being an extravagant twelve-layer kimono, literally called jyuni-hitoe), sitting position, and even their facial shape!


Meticulously arranged upon an Oscar-worthy red carpet and seated in front of a gold gilded screen, a hina-doll set can, however, be a simple affair consisting of only the Emperor and his Empress (known as the odairisama and the ohinasama, respectively). Nowadays, while the tradition to present a new set of dolls to the firstborn daughter is still in observance, many families are foregoing a full set in favor of this one tiered-platform, or a single hina-dan.

If your schedule is free this weekend, you’re in luck because Toride City, a mere 40-minute train ride from Ueno Station via the Joban Line will be hosting its annual Hina Matsuri Festival with over 90 hina dolls on displays to boost!

From community art galleries to family owned establishments—not to mention a 150-year-old Narazuke shop renowned for its Japanese pickles (Shinroku Narazuke) and a 360-year-old sake brewery next door (Kimibandai)—Toride’s Hina matsuri goes one step beyond ordinary to extraordinary in its decorative display of another traditional hinakazari or “doll ornaments.” Assortments of small dangling dolls suspended from the ceiling known as tsurushi-bina (tsurushi meaning “to hang”) make for an otherworldly experience, and contrary to the artisan dolls, these ornaments are hand-sewn by the matriarchs of a family using either chirimen (a textile made of flat-woven silk) or recycled kimono cloth.

With its origins tracing back to the Edo period as well, tsurushi-bina displays began to emerge in households welcoming the birth of a baby girl. Although financially poor, these families demonstrated affluent love for their daughters through crafting various small dolls in varying designs that were believed to be amulets for their new addition. If this isn’t the true beauty of handmade (handcrafted from the heart), I don’t know what is.


While both forms of doll decorations have already been on display since February 11th, the Toride Hinamatsuri Parade will kick off this Saturday (February 27th) from Toride Station’s East Exit at 11 am and last until half past noon. Other highlights include a free bus tour of seven must-see hinadans (doll displays) and pick-up will begin at 9:30 am with the last round concluding at 3:30 pm. But since you’ve ventured out to Ibaraki, why not opt to explore Toride’s local shopping district on foot and experience not only the sights of the beautiful storefronts, but also a taste of Japanese omotenashi (Japan’s signature form of “hospitality”) at a handful of participating vendors offering complimentary coffee, tea, and amazake (a delectably sweet fermented rice drink).

As you partake in this festive Japanese celebration, you’ll be sure to not only anticipate good fortune upon a new generation of young girls growing up in a changing Japanese society, but also the coming of spring (Here comes the Sun!)


From Ueno Station, take the JR Joban Line to Toride Station (40 minutes) and head out from the East Exit.

Date: While the Hinadans and Tsurushibinas will be on display until March 3rd, the Hinamatsuri Parade will be held on February 27-28 (Saturday-Sunday)

Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Entrance Fee: free admission

Phone: 0297-73-1365

Official Website: www.toride.or.jp/hina/hina_012.html [Japanese only]


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  • kanae says:

    I want to go there.because I live near Toride.
    I don’t know there was such a nice place,

  • Sachiko says:

    Good information!
    I do’nt know about Toride Hinamatsuri Festival inspite of living Kashiwa,
    I want go to Toride and enjoy this Hinamatsuri(*^^*)

  • Yocean says:

    I do miss the spring in Japan and the peachy day that is March Seven with Otoso, sweet sake 😀 For boys it was more about spring time and pink beauties. But I do appreciate the Japanese dolls artistry, and the Beatles quote 🙂 Good read Jessica and thanks for introducing the fine and delicate arts of Japanese craftsmanship. Those are the sublimity that made me doubt the art/craft distinction in Art History 101. Anything with that much soul built in are works of arts 🙂

  • Koki Tyra says:

    I think it’s amazing since you have such a rich knowledge in Japanese culture.
    I was very interested in the Toride Hinamatsuri
    I want to go see Hinamatsuri Parade!

  • Koki Tyra says:

    I think it’s amazing since you have such a rich knowledge in Japanese culture.
    I was very interested in the Toride Hinamatsuri
    I want to go see Hinamatsuri Parade!



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