雛祭り = Hina Matsuri

The Japanese doll festival (雛祭り = Hina Matsuri) also known as Girl`s Day, was held on the 3rd of March (the third day of the third month). It is not a national holiday in Japan, but it is one of the most important festivals of the year. This is the day that families pray for the happiness and prosperity of their girls and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful.

Large, red, tiered platforms are used to display a selection of dolls (representing the Emperor and Empress and their attendants and musicians). These displays are erected in people`s homes and at shrines and other places around Japan. The boy`s sister has 2 daughters, so they have a big one in their home too!

This custom began during the Heian period, when people believed that the dolls had the power to
contain bad spirits. Another superstition related to the dolls requires that the displays (which are put up in mid-February) are taken down on the day of Hina Matsuri, otherwise the daughters may never marry!

Like all good Japanese festivals, there is a variety of specific food and drinks that one has on Girl`s Day. The above picture shows chirashi sushi (mmmm, looks so delicious!) and other things that are often served are amazake (a sweet, non-alcoholic drink made from fermented rice), arare (crackers flavored with soy sauce) and hishi-mochi (diamond shaped rice cakes).

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