Seven-tiered Hina doll set
|Also called||Japanese Doll Festival, Girls' Day|
|Next time||3 March 2019|
|Related to||Shangsi Festival, Samjinnal|
Hinamatsuri (雛祭り Hina-matsuri), also called Doll's Day or Girls' Day, is a special day in Japan. Celebrated each year on 3 March, platforms covered with a red carpet-material are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (雛人形 hina-ningyō) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.:52
Hinamatsuri is one of the five seasonal festivals (五節句 go-sekku) that are held on auspicious dates of the Chinese calendar: the first day of the first month, the third day of the third month, and so on. After the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, these were fixed on 1 January, 3 March, 5 May, 7 July, and 9 September. The festival was traditionally known as the Peach Festival (桃の節句 Momo no Sekku), as peach trees typically began to flower around this time. Although this is no longer true since the shift to Gregorian dates, the name remains and peaches are still symbolic of the festival.
The primary aspect of Hinamatsuri is the display of seated male and female dolls (the obina (男雛) and mebina (女雛), literally "male doll" and "female doll" respectively, which represent a Heian period wedding, but usually described as the Emperor and Empress of Japan), usually on red cloth. These may be as simple as pictures or folded paper, or intricately carved three-dimensional dolls. More elaborate displays will include a multi-tiered doll stand (雛壇 hinadan) of dolls that represent ladies of the court, musicians, and other attendants, with all sorts of accoutrements. The entire set of dolls and accessories is called the hinazakari (雛盛り). The number of tiers and dolls a family may have depends on their budget.
Families normally ensure that girls have a set of the two main dolls before their first Hinamatsuri. The dolls are usually fairly expensive ($1,500 to $2,500 for a five-tier set, depending on quality) and may be handed down from older generations as heirlooms. The hinazakari spends of most of the year in storage, and girls and their mothers begin setting up the display a few days before 3 March (boys normally do not participate, as 5 May, now Children's Day was historically called "Boys' Day"). Traditionally, the dolls were supposed to be put away by the day after Hinamatsuri, the superstition being that leaving the dolls any longer will result in a late marriage for the daughter, but some families may leave them up for the entire month of March. Practically speaking, the encouragement to put everything away quickly is to avoid the rainy season and humidity that typically follow Hinamatsuri. Historically, the dolls were used as toys, but in modern times they are intended for display only. The display of dolls usually discontinues when the girls reach 10 years old.
During Hinamatsuri and the preceding days, girls hold parties with their friends. Typical foods include hina-arare (雛あられ) (rice crackers), chirashizushi (ちらし寿司) (raw fish and vegetables on rice in a bowl or bento box), hishi mochi (菱餅) (multicolored rice cakes), ichigo daifuku (いちご大福) (strawberries wrapped in adzuki bean paste), and ushiojiru (うしお汁) (clam soup, as clam shells represent a joined pair). The customary drink is shirozake (白酒) (lit. "white sake"), also called amazake (甘酒) (lit. "sweet sake"), a non-alcoholic sake.
Nagashi-bina (流し雛, lit. "doll floating") ceremonies are held around the country, where participants make dolls out of paper or straw and send them on a boat down a river, carrying one's impurities and sin with them. Some locations, such as at the Nagashibina Doll Museum in Tottori City, still follow the lunisolar calendar instead of doing it on 3 March.
The actual placement order of the dolls from left to right varies according to family tradition and location, but the order of dolls per level is the same. The layer of covering is called dankake (段掛) or simply hi-mōsen (緋毛氈), a red carpet with rainbow stripes at the bottom. The description that follows is for a complete set.
First, top platform
The top tier holds two dolls, known as imperial dolls (内裏雛 (だいりびな) dairi-bina). The words dairi means "imperial palace". These are the obina holding a ritual baton (笏 shaku) and mebina holding a fan, also known as tono (殿) and hime (姫) (lord and princess) or Odairi-sama (御内裏様) and Ohina-sama (御雛様) (honored palace official and honored doll). Although they are sometimes referred to as the Emperor and Empress, they only represent the positions and not the actual individuals themselves (with the exception of some dolls from the Meiji period that actually depict Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken). The two are usually placed in front of a gold folding screen byōbu (屏風) and placed beside green Japanese garden trees.
The second tier holds three court ladies san-nin kanjo (三人官女) who serve sake to the male and female dolls. Two of them are standing with serving utensils, one with a long handle (長柄の銚子 Nagae no chōshi) and the other with a short one (加えの銚子 Kuwae no chōshi). The third (三方 Sanpō), placed in the middle, holds a small table and may be standing or sitting/kneeling.
Accessories placed between the ladies are takatsuki (高坏), stands with round table-tops for seasonal sweets, excluding hishi mochi.
- Small drum (太鼓 Taiko), seated,
- Large drum (大鼓 Ōtsuzumi), standing,
- Hand drum (小鼓 Kotsuzumi), standing,
- Flute (笛 Fue), or Yokobue (横笛), seated,
- Singer 謡い方 (Utaikata), holding a folding fan (扇子 sensu), standing.
There are ancient sets with seven or ten musicians, and at least one with female musicians.
Two ministers (大臣 daijin) may be displayed on the fourth tier. These may be the emperor's bodyguards, or administrators in Kyoto: the Minister of the Right (右大臣 Udaijin) and the Minister of the Left (左大臣 Sadaijin). Both are sometimes equipped with bows and arrows. When representing the ministers, the Minister of the Right is depicted as a young person, while the Minister of the Left is older because that position was the more senior of the two. Also, because the dolls are placed in positions relative to each other, the Minister of the Right will be on "stage right" (the viewer's left) and the Minister of the Left will be on the other side.
Between the two figures are covered bowl tables (掛盤膳 kakebanzen), also referred to as o-zen (お膳), as well as diamond-shaped stands (菱台 hishidai) bearing diamond-shaped hishi mochi.
Just below the ministers: on the rightmost, a mandarin orange tree (右近の橘 Ukon no tachibana), and on the leftmost, a cherry blossom tree (左近の桜 Sakon no sakura).
- Crying drinker nakijōgo (泣き上戸),
- Angry drinker okorijōgo (怒り上戸), and
- Laughing drinker waraijōgo (笑い上戸)
On the sixth and seventh tiers, a variety of miniature furniture, tools, carriages, etc., are displayed.
These are items used within the palatial residence.
- tansu (箪笥) : chest of (usually five) drawers, sometimes with swinging outer covering doors.
- nagamochi (長持) : long chest for kimono storage.
- hasamibako (挟箱) : smaller clothing storage box, placed on top of nagamochi.
- kyōdai (鏡台) : literally mirror stand, a smaller chest of drawers with a mirror on top.
- haribako (針箱) : sewing kit box.
- two hibachi (火鉢) : braziers.
- daisu (台子) : a set of ocha dōgu (お茶道具) or cha no yu dōgu (茶の湯道具), utensils for the tea ceremony.
These are items used when away from the palatial residence.
- jubako (重箱), a set of nested lacquered food boxes with either a cord tied vertically around the boxes or a stiff handle that locks them together.
- gokago (御駕籠 or 御駕篭), a palanquin.
- goshoguruma (御所車), an ox-drawn carriage favored by Heian nobility. This last is sometimes known as gisha or gyuusha (牛車).
- Less common, hanaguruma (花車), an ox drawing a cart of flowers.
The Kojiki contains a story where Izanagi, one of the mythical founders of Japan, purifies himself in the river after visiting Yomi, the land of the dead. This is the source of the Shinto purification rites known as o-harae (お祓). In its earliest form, this involved human, animal, property, or food sacrifice, and was punishment for crimes or sin. Archaeological evidence indicates this being done as early as the Kofun period, possibly imported from Shang dynasty China (similar river purification rituals existed in ancient Korea). During the Nara period, sacrifices were seen as barbaric, and the use of pottery, effigies, or monetary offerings became standard. Documentary evidence discovered in Kyoto links these changes to similar practices in Tang dynasty China.
O-harae was practiced by the imperial court twice a year (in the 6th and 12th months of the Chinese calendar) and became a society-wide custom. The Heian period novel The Tale of Genji mentions that the 3rd day of the 3rd month (the traditional date of the Peach Festival) as an auspicious day to perform purification by means of transferring them to dolls made of paper, wood, or straw called katashiro (形代), and throwing them into the river or ocean. Although it is unclear if Genji influenced the association of dolls with that date, diaries of women in the imperial court mention dolls as gifts for girls around that time of year.
The Ōnin War of 1467–1477 brought an end to o-harae at the imperial court, but it was still practiced among the common folk and was popular at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto and at Sumiyoshi taisha in Osaka. As time passed, the 12th month purification was abandoned, and the 6th month one became increasingly popular.
The earliest record of displaying the dolls as part of the Peach Festival comes from 1625, for Emperor Go-Mizunoo's daughter Oki-ko. Imperial court ladies set up equipment for her to engage in doll play (雛遊び hina asobi). After Oki-ko succeeded her father as the Empress Meishō, Hinamatsuri legally became the name of the holiday in 1687. Doll-makers began making elaborate dolls for the festival (some growing as tall as 3 feet (1 meter) high before laws were passed restricting their size) and over time, the hinazakari evolved to include fifteen dolls and their accessories. As dolls became more expensive, tiers were added to the hinadan so that the expensive ones could be placed out of the reach of young children.
During the Meiji period as Japan began to modernize and the emperor was restored to power, Hinamatsuri was deprecated in favor of new holidays that focused on the emperor's supposed bond with the nation, but it was revived. By focusing on marriage and families, it represented Japanese hopes and values, and as the dolls were said to represent the emperor and empress, it also fostered respect for the throne. The holiday then spread to other countries via the Japanese diaspora, although it remains confined to immigrant Japanese communities and their descendants.
- Public holidays in Japan
- Japanese festivals
- Japanese traditional dolls
- Tango no Sekku
- Yurihonjo hinakaido – an annual trail of hina doll displays in Yurihonjo City
- Golu – a similar tradition in India
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