8 Things about Hinamatsuri every Parent Should Know!

8 Things about Hinamatsuri every Parent Should Know!

Have you heard about Hinamatsuri? You might think it is a kind of festival since it says matsuri… well, you are close! We celebrate Hinamatsuri at the begging of spring every year in Japan. Here I would like to tell you about what we do on Hinamatsuri.



 

8 Things about Hinamatsuri every Parent Should Know!

 

1. What is Hinamatruri?

Hinamatsuri is also called Momo-no-sekku (桃の節句) which is one of the old holidays in Japan. It is the day for Japanese to wish for girls’ growth and happiness. We decorate certain dolls and flowers and also prepare meals and snacks for the day. Let’s take a closer look at these customs.

 

2. Origin of Hinamatsuri

Although the exact origin on the festival is uncertain, during Heian era (around 8c), there was an event in which people in the upper class made some dolls and make them float in the river. After Edo period (17c-19c), a lot more people started to celebrate the holiday. Today, many families having girls often enjoy Hinamatsuri on March 3rd every year.

 

3. Hina dolls

One of the major customs for Hinamatsuri is decorating dolls called Hina Ningyo (ひな人形). The basic set of dolls has 10 of them –including a prince called Odairisama (お内裏様), a princess Ohinasama (お雛様), 3 servants named 3 Nin Kanjo (3人官女), and 5 players of music instruments called 5 Nin Bayashi (5人囃子). We usually put them on the special steps for the decoration –Odairisama and Ohinasama in the first row, 3 Nin Kanjo in the second row, and 5 Nin Bayashi in the last row. In addition to these dolls, we often decorate lights (Bonbori: ぼんぼり), Squared rice cake (Hishimochi, ひしもち), Plum tree (Momonoki: 桃の木) and other luggage that Ohinasama has such as a chest and a mirror. Even though these are the main decorations for Hinamatsuri, what people have varies depending on each family. It would be interesting to look for different patterns of Hina doll decorations!

 

4. Hinamatsuri song

The most famous Hinamatsuri song is the one called “Ureshii Hinamatsuri (うれしいひなまつり)”. When listening to the music, you’ll know what we decorate for the day since the lyrics include the things I mentioned above. If you have a chance to visit Japan in the beginning of March, you would hear the song everywhere. Let’s practice singing the music and learn more about Hinamatsuri!

 

5. Chirashi sushi (ちらしずし)

On March 3rd, it is common to have Chirashi sushi (ちらしずし) –which is not rolled or shaped sushi but looks like a bowl. We usually put vegetables and raw fishes on sushi rice. What we have for Chirashi sushi on Hinamatsuri has meanings. For example, the shrimp represents a long life while beans mean healthy and hard working. You’ll enjoy Chirashi sushi more after learning the meanings of each ingredient.

 

6. Hishimochi

Hishimochi is a kind of rice cake but usually squared and colored. The colors are often red (or pink), white and green, but it depends on regions. These colors have meanings as well –red is thought to protect people against evil, white represents wishes for the prosperity of people’s posterity, long life and purity, and green means health. These three colors are often used in decorations since the combination of pink, green and white reminds people of Hinamatsuri in Japan. You should look around and see if these colors are used in Japan around that time of the year!

 

7. Hina arare

Hina arare is a rice cracker for Hinamatsuri. Although most of the rice crackers are often salty and taste like soy sauce, this Hina arare is usually sweet. Furthermore, the shape of it is round and it is colored by the same colors as Hishimochi –which is red (or pink), white and green. However, Hina arare in Kansai area is a little bit different compared to other regions in Japan. Hina arare in Kansai has a lot more flavors like soy sauce, shrimp and seaweed (Nori). These days, in order to let more and more people to become familiar with Hina arare, there is the one covered with chocolate. If you are not brave enough to try the original one, have the chocolate one first!

 

8. Legend

There are some legends about Hinamatsuri –one of the famous stories is about girls’ marriage. Not only on the very day, we usually start decorating Hina dolls a couple of weeks before Hinamatsuri so that we can enjoy looking at them for a while. You don’t have to care about the starting date, but you should be careful about the day of putting away. There is this story telling that if you put the dolls away late, your daughters will not be able to get married in the future. Especially in older times, it was very important for young girls to find their partners as early as possible. So it was thought to be very important to put Hina dolls away soon after the celebration. Like this story, many legends in Japan are related to our culture and history –so it would be a lot of fun studying that kind of stories if you are interested in Japanese culture and history as well.

 

Conclusion

Hinamatsuri is Japanese holiday that whish for girls’ growth and happiness. This celebration has unique decorations, meals and even a song. It would be interesting to learn about Hinamatsuri while you are studying Japanese culture and history.

 

8 Things about Hinamatsuri every Parent Should Know!

1. What is Hinamatruri?
2. Origin of Hinamatsuri
3. Hina dolls
4. Hinamatsuri song
5. Chirashi sushi (ちらしずし)
6. Hishimochi
7. Hina arare
8. Legend