March 3rd was one of my favorite festivals in Japan – Hina Matsuri. Hina Matsuri is otherwise known as the Hina Doll Festival and celebrates Girl’s Day. It is a day to pray for the health and wellbeing of young girls. It’s celebrated through displaying a set of often very ornate and beautiful dolls which portray the royal court of the Heian Period (794 to 1185).
It has it’s origins in the Heian period and the belief that dolls can entrap bad spirits. Usually in the weeks leading up to the Hina Matsuri storefronts, historic buildings, and families put the dolls on display which traditionally inclues the dolls sitting on a tiered shelf resembling steps draped in red fabric. My town has a very old looking historic street/district where some historic buildings are opened and have large displays of dolls including some antique ones. I have a lot of fond memories of going to see the doll displays with my wife while we were dating. She is the youngest daughter of her family and thus she never got her own set of dolls, so I bought a small set which I put out for her. I want to buy a proper set some day, but they can be expensive easily passing the thousand dollar range for a finely crafted set wearing many layered kimonos.
Here are a few photos I took during last year’s Hina Matsuri.