Culture & Traditions: March


The topic of March is “HINA MATSURI”

The Doll’s Festival is the Girls’ Festival as well, celebrated on March 3. It is also a seasonal festival called momo-no-sekku (featuring peach blossoms). A group of beautifully dressed dolls are displayed on tiers of shelves in the home of the family that has a young girl. The dolls represent members of the ancient imperial court. The Emperor and the Empress (dairi-bina) are displayed on the top shelf, and their two eminent lords (udaijin and sadaijin), three court ladies (san-nin-kanjo), five musicians (go-nin-bayashi), and three servants are arrayed below them. Even small representations of funiture and foods are displayed on the lower shelves.

Hinamatsuri dates from the medieval times, but the custom of displaying dolls in this fashion started in the eighteenth century. Whereas originally the hand-made dolls were thrown into the river along with offerings on March 3, today the commercially made and expensive dolls are stored away for the next year. They are often passed from generation to generation.

Shiro Zake (Sweet rice wine) and special dishes such as sushi, sakura-mochi (ricecake wrapped with pickled cherry leaf, Hina-arare (pop rice) are prepared on this girls’ day.