Hina Matsuri is something that every parent needs to know about. If your kids have mentioned it but you’re not sure exactly what it is, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s a traditional celebration in Japan. It’s a really cool tradition that is worth exploring, so here are ten things you didn’t know about Hina Matsuri but really should be aware of.
1. Hina Matsuri is the Japanese Doll’s Festival
Every year on the third of March, some Japanese celebrate what is known as Hina Matsuri, which also means Doll’s Festival. Japanese girls get excited about the celebration because it is a time when f full seven rows of dolls are displayed in the homes of families. The most precious and sacred dolls in the home are displayed for everyone to see and this is a time of wonder for young girls who have a fondness of dolls.
2. It’s a time of goodwill towards girls
The celebration isn’t just about putting some amazing dolls on display in your home. Although this is one of the activities observed, there is much more to Hina Matsuri than that. Whole families make a journey to the shrines of their choice to pray for their girls. As tradition calls for, they pray for the happiness and the health of their girls. This is one day of the year that focuses on the well-being of girls and it is a very special day for them with goodwill and good intentions towards the girls of Japan.
3. There is also a similar day for boys
Japan doesn’t leave boys out of their specially designated celebrations. While it’s later in the year, boys have a day that is similar. It’s called Kodomo no-hi and it is observed on the 5th of May. Families with boys buy or make some of the most amazing kites to fly on this day. They also use figures that are in the form of traditional warriors to decorate the home. This is to inspire strength and braveness in the boys. The boys usually take specially prepared baths with iris leaves and dress in a kimono. The special bath is an old tradition that is believed to enhance health and strength.
4. Hina Matsuri is an ancient festival
The celebration of Hina Matsuri is believed to have begun sometime during the Heian era in the 8th century. It began with upper-class people who designed dolls that they would set afloat in the river. The tradition was known to have become more popular during the Edo period of the 17-19th centuries. During modern times, the date was set officially on March 3rd for the celebration of Hina Matsuri.
5. Hina dolls are part of a major custom
The custom of decorating dolls is called Hina Ningyo. There are a total of ten dolls which also include Odairisama, the prince. Ohinasama is the princess and she has 3 servants referred to as 3 Nin Kanjo and 5 musicians who play musical instruments referred to as the 5 Nin Bayashi. These make up the ten dolls and they must be displayed in a very specific order according to tradition.
6. A special sushi is eaten on Himasatsuri
The dish that is most commonly served on May 3 is Chirashi sushi. It’s prepared in a very special way. Instead of shaping or rolling the sushi, it takes on the appearance of a bowl. There is a specific meaning assigned to each of the ingredients included in Chirashi sushi. Beans stand for hard workers and good health. Shrimp stands for long life. There are more meanings associated with specific food items.
7. There are Hinamatsuri songs
The song that is associated with Hinamatsuri talks about the things that are decorated on a certain day because the things are included in the lyrics of the songs. The most popular of these songs is called “Ureshii Hinamatsuri” and if you visit Japan on the third of March you’ll hear it almost everywhere.
8. Hina Matsuri has associated legends
One of the legends that are told about Hinamatsuri is a story about a girl’s marriage. The legend has to do with the practice of putting the Hinamatsuri dolls away for the year. It doesn’t really matter when they’re set up, but when you put them away does matter. If you’re late in putting them away it will make circumstances come that will prevent your daughters from getting married in the future.
9. A Hishimochi is a part of the tradition
Hisimochi is a square and colorful type of rice cake. The colors most often used for these are pink, red, white and green. The most common colors used depends upon the region in Japan. The colors used also have their own meanings. red or pink is for protection against evil. White is used to represent sincere wishes of long life and purity. Green represents health.
10. There is also a traditional rice cracker served
The name of the traditional rice cracker that is served on Hinamatsuri is called Hina arare. This is a special cracker that is different than most other types in Japan. It is made to be very sweet and the shape is always round. It’s made in the same colors that are used for Hishimochi and the colors have the same meaning. They are often made in a variety of flavors but one is made with chocolate.