On the 3rd of every March, in the best room of a Japanese house, you will find a set of dolls displayed on a tier made up of different platforms in one area. These are no ordinary dolls. They have a very special meaning in Japan, playing a major role in an event known as Hinamatsuri or Girl’s Day.
It is also called “Hina-no-Sekku” or “Momo-no-Sekku,” meaning, Doll Festival and Peach Blossom’s Festival, respectively. During this day, Japanese people pray for the health and wellness of young girls in the family.
The ornamental dolls you see, represent important figures in Heian-era Japanese society namely, the Emperor, the Empress, the attendants and musicians. All of them wear a traditional court dress known as “junihitoe.”
Junihitoe is a highly complex and elegant kimono, as seen above. It means “twelve-layer robe.” These dolls are generally displayed as early as February. However, Japanese believe that you have to take them down not later than March 4. Doing so will result in late marriage for your daughter.
— ねぴお (@nepio100) 2017年3月5日
Dolls are not just placed anywhere. They have special positions and placements. There are several platforms to consider, depending on the dolls’ positions. Below are the top platforms of the tiers.
This is the topmost. There are only two dolls holding this position and they are the imperial dolls, the Emperor and his Empress. Traditionally, the male is placed on the right while the female on the left. However, modern placement is the opposite.
The three court ladies holding a sake are placed on the second tier. They are known as “sannin kanjo,” in Japanese. Accessories are placed between the ladies. There’s also a round table top where seasonal sweets are served.
Located in the third tier are five male musicians known as “gonin bayashi.” From the viewer’s perspective, these are their placements from left to right: small drum, large drum, hand drum, flute and singer. It is only the singer who doesn’t hold any instrument.
Whether you are in outside of Japan, Hinamatsuri is a wonderful day to celebrate. Admiring the beautiful dolls and praying for the health and well-being of the young girls in your family are not the only things you can do to celebrate! You can go to shrines that are famous for Hinamatsuri or attend festivals celebrating traditional Japanese culture! If you cannot participate in the events due to your location, you could always try to make some of the traditional Hinamatsuri sweets! Don’t overlook the beauty of this holiday!