The Japanese Doll Festival — Girls’ Day

hina ningyo-3On March 3rd, Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival ) or Girls’ Day is celebrated in Japan. Platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (hina-ningyo) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period  (794-1192) — it is said that the custom of displaying dolls began during this period.

Families with little girls wish “health and happiness” for them and generally start to display the dolls in February and take them down immediately after the festival. Superstition says that leaving the dolls past March 4 will result in a late marriage for the daughter.

Hina refers to the kind of dolls traditionally put on display for the celebration. Matsuri means “festival” in Japanese. Putting them together, Hinamatsuri means something like, “Hina-doll Day”. However, Hinamatsuri is commonly referred to as “Girls’ Day” in English.

Here’s some vintage hina dolls we encountered on display at a traditional large household in Yamagata Prefecture.

Hina-nigyo, family collection

 

Hina-nigyo, family collection

 

Hina-nigyo, family collection

 

Hina-nigyo, family collection

 

Hina-nigyo, family collection

 

Hina-nigyo, family collection

 

Hina-nigyo, family collection

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