Girls just want to have fun! | Doll festival “Hinamatsuri”

Hina DollsHello, everyone! Today, I want to write about a Japanese special day in March! This month is only about Japanese traditional event! This festival is for girls and many Japanese little girls get excited because they can get to see the pretty dolls in their house. This girl’s day is called “Hinamatsuri(雛祭り)” or “Momo no Settuku(桃の節句)”.

Have you heard of them before? There are many events for Hinamatsuri in Japan around this season. It’s so interesting and very unique. It’s one of the biggest events in Japan and it’s for girls to celebrate but of course, boys can enjoy too.

Let’s check how they celebrate it! (*^o^*)




What is Momo no Settuku?


On March 3rd, this day is called Hinamatsuri or Momo no Settuku. It is basically for girls. Modern day Japanese use Hinamatsuri more than Momo no Settuku. Both have the same meaning but let me explain Momo no Settuku first.

Old days around 3rd March, in this season, the peach blossom blooms up. By the way, Momo means peach in Japanese. Settuku means changing of the season. Every changing of seasons, Japanese have a different event to wish good luck, good health, the prosperity of descendants. They make offerings to god and to get rid of evil spirits on this day. This event is called Settuku. Japanese believe that the peach blossom tree protects their charm from evil spirits. It is said that the peach leaf is good for your skin disease and rash so they take a bath with peach leaves. I think this is old traditional style, though, I have never heard of someone doing this in this era. Anyway, that is how Momo no Settuku is called.


History of Hinamatsuri


Japanese doll festivalHinamatsuri is known as Japanese doll festival in the world today but they can’t tell exactly how Hinamatsuri was started, but the resource of when it started is from the Heian period. Heian period started in 794 AC. Noble people who had power to their places, their kids used to play a game is called “Hina Asobi”. “Hina Asobi” is playing house. Of course, they didn’t have toy’s back then so they used to play house with paper dolls.

Hina means Hina in the modern word, this word is basically like small, cute, or adorable. In the old-time, they used to let the paper doll flow down the river for replacement of themselves to get rid of the evil spirits. These two customs connect together and became the roots of Hinamatsuri.

After this, time passed and the Muromachi period started from 1336 AC. While this period,  the doll itself became a better quality, it was not a paper doll anymore. At this same time, they stopped letting paper doll go down the river. As I said that doll’s quality got better so they started to decorate dolls in their house. Also, when a girl gets married, they send the doll together with the girl. I want you to know that this custom was still for rich people = noble people only.

Let’s take an even further trip through time. Let’s go to the Edo period that started from 1603 AC. While in this time, Japanese made the day of girls, “Momo no Settuku” official. Since this, they have decorated dolls on a stair stage like a picture below.


How to set up Hina dolls


How to set Hina dolls upJapanese set up Hina dolls on the stair stage. It has an order to put them(but it depends on region). I want to show you the basic form.

Generally from the top, on first step Odairi sama and Ohina sama(Emperor and Empress).

On second step Sannin Kanjo(three court ladies).

On third step Gonin bayashi(large drummer, small drummer, barrel drummer, flute, vocalist).

On fourth step Udaijin and Sadaijin(two ministers).

On fifth Sannin Shicho(three servants).




Foods for Hinamatsuri


To celebrate this day, Japanese make delicious food to eat! This day is for girls so when you eat these foods(I will tell you below), you have to wish for girls good charm, luck, health!

Chirashizushi(ちらし寿司)Chirashizushi(Hinamatsuri foods)First is No.1 food that Japanese make for celebration, it is called “Chirashizushi”! They eat Chirashizushi on Hinamatsuri. Chirashizushi is kind of like Sushi but the difference is that they mix many fish and veggies together with rice! I should say they sprinkle them over rice! Some fish and veggies have meanings. Shrimp is for long longevity and a lotus root is for prospective future. Do you know that the lotus has a couple of holes? They mix fish and veggies which have meaning together!


Hamaguri no Osuimono(蛤のお吸い物)

Hamaguri no Osuimono(Hinamatsuri foods)Second is Hamaguri no Osuimono. This is a clam soup and has a meaning too. Do you know that clam shells don’t match with different clam’s shell? Same clam shells match with same clam shells! Have you noticed yet why they eat the clam soup for? No? not yet? Well, let me tell you, this is to wish for the girl to find a good man who will match with the girl! Clam is a symbol of a husband and wife in Japan! Here is a picture of clam soup!(Left picture is clams, right picture is Osuimono. I couldn’t find Hamaguri no Osuimono picture with copyright free. So please imagine both are mixed together!)



Hishimochi(Hinamatsuri foods)Third is Hishimochi. Hishi means a rhombus, you know the diamond shape. Hishi means the shape of a diamond. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake. Japanese rice is sticky and stretchy and a bit sweet! Here is a picture of Mochi below. As you can see Hishimochi has 3 colors in the picture. Yes, this has the meaning too, actually, it has a couple of meanings.  I will show you two ways of this meaning.

  • White snow melts,
  • Green glasses come out,
  • Red(Pink) flower bloom up!

Theory of nature huh? It is an easy way to remember. Now I will give you another meaning that is more Japanese traditional.

  • White is a color of pureness.
  • Green is a color of health and longevity.
  • Red(Pink) is a color of protection against evil spirits.

The white part of Hishimochi is dyed with water chestnuts, water chestnuts have a benefit to lower blood pressure. The green part is dyed with Yomogi(mugwort but a little different. Yomogi is a kind of fragrant herb). Yomogi helps to increase blood circulation. Red(Pink) is dyed with the seeds of a gardenia, gardenia seeds is a detoxification agent. That is what Hishimochi is.


Hina Arare(雛あられ)

Hina Arare(Hinamatsuri Snacks)The fourth is Hina Arare. Hina Arare is sweet rice crackers, you can see four colors. It represents from seasons, this represents that through all seasons, you will be all good with health and charm!



Shirozake(Hinamatsuri foods)Fifth is Shirozake. Shirozake is a sweet white sake. A long time ago, they used to put a peach flower in Shirozake and drink. Kids don’t drink this because of the alcohol. This is for adult only!



Amazake(Hinamatsuri foods)Sixth is Amazake, it is a drink like shirozake. Comparing to Shirozake, Amazake doesn’t have alcohol. To make Amazake, they use sake lees, sake lees contain only a bit of alcohol, as heating them up the alcohol will be gone. It is good for body metabolism and warming your body up.


Traditional legend for Hina dolls


There is a traditional legend for Hina dolls when they put them away. It’s such a pain to clean those dolls up for sure but if you hear this traditional legend, you will think you have to clean them up immediately. Usually, they start to decorate them around February 18th. As you read the sentences above, they used to let the Hina paper flow down the river so this event is related to the water. Around February 18th, this season is called “Usui(雨水)”. The date of Usui is different every year. Usui means the snow would start to melt and become water.

But when is the time to put them away? This answer is simple. You should start to put them away as soon as March 3rd is over. It’s said that your daughter will be late getting married if you don’t put them away quickly. You want to say that is mean but this is the Japanese parent’s kindness.

  1. It’s said that Hina dolls take troubles instead of your daughters so if you keep them close to your daughters, that wouldn’t be good. They believed that they won’t be able to have a happy marriage so put them away as soon as you can.
  2. Hina dolls express a wedding so if you set them up early, that means your daughters will get married early. If you put them away early, that means your daughters would leave their house early. This can mean to get married early.
  3. Japanese teach their daughters the manners. To be a grown woman to get married someday, they need to be able to clean or put them away in right time.

You can see the parent’s kindness, right?

By the way, some Japanese turn all of Hina dolls backward when they are busy and don’t have time to put them away immediately. This means that they recognize them as they are sleeping. Until they have time to clean them up, some people do this way.


Japanese doll festival = Hinamatsuri


Let me introduce some places that have big doll festival in japan.


Nagashi-bina festival in Saga shrine

Photo: “Nagashi Bina”(kind of Hina matsuri doll).Photographed in Ukiha, Fukuoka, Japan. by Nissy-KITAQ Wikimedia Commons with CC License Attribution

This is an old-style way to celebrate Hinamatsuri. As I explained how Japanese used to let the paper doll flow down the river. Actually, they still carry this tradition. There are some places do this so it would be cool to see it!

Fukuoka prefecture,

Tottori prefecture, Tottori city, Mochigase cho, Furumochigase

Nara prefecture, Gojo city, Minami Ada cho

Hyogo prefecture, Tatsuno city, Tatsuno cho, Kita Tatsuno

Saitama prefecture, Iwatsuki ku

and, so on. There are many places do this way.


Kyokusui no Utage(En)(曲水の宴)

Kyokusui no Utage in Jonangu, Kyoto

Photo: Kyokusui no utage held in Jonangu shrine by Wikiwikiyarou Wikimedia Commons with CC License Attribution

You won’t see Hina dolls but you will be able to see the people who get dressed in Heian period clothing. This event is very interesting. People sit by a stream and wait for a Sake cup. While they are waiting for it, they sit there and read their poem. When it comes to them, they pick it up and drink Sake. After they drink Sake, they let the Sake cup flow down the stream and they go to other building and introduce their poem to people.


Tsurushi Kazari(hanging decoration) festival



There are “Sagemon”, “Tsurushikazari(つるし飾り)”, and “Kasafuku(傘福)” that are famous for this event. Those three are called “Tsurushi Kazari(hanging decoration)” and one of the biggest event to hang decoration for Hinamatsuri in Japan. It’s an old custom and they wish for the growth of girls.

Sagemon is at Fukuoka prefecture, Yanagawa city.

Tsurushikazari is at Shizuoka prefecture, Kamo gun Higashiizucho, Inatori.

Kasafuku is at Yamagata prefecture, Sakata city.


Big Hina doll festival “Big Hinamatsuri”

Big dolls festival in Japan

Big Hinamatsuri in Tokushima prefecture, Katsuura

Big Hina-Matsuri is not about the size! It’s a number that they are talking about. This is crazy~~! If you are a maniac for Hina dolls, you should go to this festival. There are two famous places that I want to introduce you.

One is from Tokushima prefecture. This place owns over 30000 Hina dolls and they display 10000 Hina dolls on 100 steps. What an amazing view, right? If you find your favorite one, you can take it home!(Of course, you have to pay, though!)

Location: Tokushima prefecture, Katsuura cho

Big Hinamatsuri in Chiba

Big Hinamatsuri in Chiba prefecture, Katsuura

Another one is from Chiba prefecture. Since they have the same city name, Tokushima’s Katsuura gave 7000 Hina dolls to Chiba’s Katsuura. Do you see the picture? They display 1200 Hina dolls on 60 steps at the shrine, 800 Hina dolls at an interception, 600 Hina dolls in the front of Kakuo temple’s gate, and 25000 Hina dolls in this city.

Location: Chiba prefecture, Katsuura city




Hinamatsuri is the biggest event in March. I hope you could understand what it is like. This festival is for girls but it would be fun to take part in those events as boys too, right? If you want to learn Japanese culture, Hinamatsuri would be a great experience for you. Someday, I will go to big Hinamatsuri! +.(*’v`*)+

Thank you for reading this post!






  1. This is really cool

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.