Blackcabbit's World

Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.

Hina Matsuri – The Doll Festival

Hina Matsuri (雛祭り / the Doll Festival), which is also known as Girls’ Day or Peach Festival, is celebrated on March 3rd. For this event, Japanese families with little girls express their wish for their daughter’s healthy growth and happiness by adorning their home with a splendid traditional doll set.

Every year, the Hina Ningyo (雛人形 / Hina doll set) are taken out of their boxes and are placed on stepped platforms laid with red cloth – a ritual that little girls enjoy and older women recall with fond nostalgia. Though they were made for little girls, the Japanese dolls are not the typical toys that children play with. In fact, they are actually quite expensive as they are handmade, with their faces hand-painted and silk kimono hand-sewn by master craftsmen.

Tomayama NingyoThese brilliantly elaborated dolls, fashioned after the ancient Heian imperial court, are arranged in a certain order on a five or seven-tiered stand (or maybe more). The Dairi (emperor) and his Hina (empress) are placed on the topmost level with a gilt decorative screen and a pair of lanterns. Followed by their servants, such as the Sannin Kanjo (three court ladies), Gonin Bayashi (five court musicians), Daijin (state ministers) and Eji (guards). Part of the set also include miniatures of furniture, aristocratic goods, a mandarin orange tree, a cherry or peach tree, and so forth. Celebratory treats like the Shirozake (sweet white alcohol), Hishi Mochi (diamond-shaped rice cakes) and Hina Arare (sweet roasted rice crackers) are also displayed.

The display of the dolls generally start in February and are immediately packed away after the Hina Matsuri is over. Otherwise, according to superstition, leaving the display as it is after the third will result in the daughter’s late marriage.

Simplified Hina Ningyo

Hina Dolls

Nowadays, celebrating the Doll Festival with a scaled-down display of merely the emperor and empress are becoming popular since many homes lack sufficient space.

My husband’s sister had a gorgeous set, which was a gift from their grandparents when she was a little girl. The set was displayed only ONCE and had been kept in storage ever since. However this year, my MIL took the set out and had it displayed for our newest member in the family – our 3-month old baby girl.

Kewpie doll

The hina dolls may also be in the version of contemporary characters (e.g.Hello Kitty; Disney, etc). Here is an adorable set of Kewpie Hina Doll Collection.

Doll Festival

Here are more examples of simplified Hina Dolls: A pair of clay Hina figurines as well as a pair of round Hina wooden Kokeshi. It is also common to find the imperial pair in anthropomorphic form, such zodiac animal or in this case, a pair of Hina Maneki Neko.

Additionally, they may also be in the form of paper dolls, origami, chirimen craftworks, or framed drawing, and so forth.

Hina Ningyo EtegamiAn Etegami (Picture Postcard) I did for “Hina Matsuri.”
Message: To all the little girls of the world, I wish you happiness and joy!


Japanese Annual Events (Main Page)


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