Hinamatsuri: The pinkest day of the year
By Anthony Joh
In Japan, there is a special day for everyone; for elders, workers, boys, and last but not least, for GIRLS. If you are living in Japan around this season, you might be overwhelmed by the limitless shades of pink, displayed in shopping malls, Konbini and even on chocolate packages.
This sudden pink rush is due to Japan’s traditional celebration of girls called, Hinamatsuri.
What is Hinamatsuri?
Hinamatsuri (Doll festival), held on March 3rd, is a special day to pray for the growth and happiness of young girls. So why pink? Well, Hinamatsuri is also called “Momo no sekku” (Peach Festival), as March on lunar calendar is the peach blossom season (might be the reason why the only female character from Mario was named “Princess Peach”). This tradition, originated in China, initially carried out by the aristocrats during Heian era but eventually spread amongst all the classes and became an annual festival of Japan.
A few days before Hinamatsuri, families with girls will set up the Hinadan (雛壇ひなだん), a five to seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet, and on it place Hina-Ningyo (雛人形ひなにんぎょう), special dolls for the Hinamatsuri.
The dolls are believed to function as effigies, which take away the evil spirits. By displaying dolls once a year, the parents wish for their daughters’ long and healthy life. Once all the dolls are lined up in correct position, some peach blossoms must be dedicated on the stand.
*The stand represents the old Japanese aristocratic class.
On the day of Hinamatsuri, families get together and enjoy delicious traditional dishes such as, Chirashi-zushi (Sushi-rice topped with raw fish and other lucky ingredients), clam soup, Hina-arare (colorful rice crackers), and Hishimochi (diamond-shaped multi-color rice cake) while drinking Shirozake (white-sake).
The Hinadan stand must remain up for few days after the ceremony as putting it off right away is considered as bad luck.
For those who want to purchase Hinaningyo, please keep it mind that the price varies depending on how rigid you want to get. You can buy it online or nearby malls but if you want to get real traditional one, I suggest you to visit doll-stores or Asakusabashi for Hinaningyo shopping.