Hina Matsuri is a big festival in Japan and falls on March 3rd. It literally means the Doll Festival, a day when the families with girls display a very special set of dolls, hina-ningyō, thus praying for their girl’s good health and happiness.
Hina Matsuri is a new tradition which only became popular in the Edo Period (1600-1867) whereby it became customary for maternal grandparents to present a set of dolls upon the birth of their first granddaughter. A full set requires a seven-tiered staircase-like deck on which to display the Emperor and Empress, ministers, attendants, musicians and the procession of dowry goods and is very costly (up to and over one million yen!)
Here is a link to Llandro’s Hina Matsuri Dolls, which I saw on display in Palace Hotel Tokyo, with the starting price of A$3500 and I am rather keen to get the pair.
The Emperor (Odairi-sama) and the Empress (Ohime-sama) wearing Heian Period clothing are placed in front of a gold folding screen (byōbu) with two paper lanterns (bonbori) and two flower vases
Notice the diamond shaped rice cakes placed on the stand with Hina dolls? These are the Hishi-mochi. They are colored in pink (implying peach flowers), white (implying snow), and green (implying new growth).
The probable origin of Hina Matsuri might be Nagashi-bina (floating paper dolls down a river). Originally, the paper dolls were made to represent each person and all the ill-fortunes that might visit that person in the coming year were wished onto the doll. Then the doll was sent away on the river, taking the bad luck with it.
A taboo to remember is to take the pair of Hina Dolls down after March 3rd – however, if the family is too busy to dismantle the set, the dolls must be turned around, otherwise, misfortune might fall on the daugher and she would not be able to find a good husband!
And for the more academically inclined, here is an interesting critical analysis on Hina Matsuri and the Japanese Female, which inquired on the females as ‘controlled victims of Japanese patriarchy‘ from its sombre and not-so-happy significance.
Today, March 8th is also the International Women’s Day which I found out from the morning show talking heads. Seriously, why do they equate women’s power through style and dressing? Don’t they know that the stars before and after are so totally different? Most stars are from the ghettos anyway. The world’s most powerful woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australia’s richest woman, mining magnate Gina Rinehart are powerful, but they are not stylish!
Anyway, before I tangent off, here is a link to the virtual Girl Museum online – ‘Celebrating Girlhood Worldwide’!