Girls Day and Heian Culture

Every March 3rd in Japan,1 families with daughters celebrate a holiday called Hinamatsuri (ひな祭り) also known as the Doll Festival, or usually in English it is called Girls’ Day.

The derives from a kind of doll called hina that are usually on display in the family home starting one month earlier (February 3rd). The displays can be very simple as shown above which we have at home, or, the displays can be very ornate:

A full display at Uwajimaya store in Seattle, Washington. I took this photo years ago, and submitted to Wikimedia Commons here.

This display recreates an Imperial wedding between a prince and his bridge, not unlike those that high-ranking authors of the Hyakunin Isshu probably celebrated back in the day complete with ox-drawn carts of gifts, musicians, ladies-in-waiting, and so on. This tradition is to celebrate daughters, and to wish them a happy wedding in the future. This may seem a bit old-fashioned, but it’s also a great time to wish your daughters prosperity and happiness, regardless of how they choose to live their life.

It’s also fascinating that while the Heian Period culture of Japan is long gone, you can see traces of it today even in modern Japan. When someone like Takako (poem 54) married the powerful Fujiwara no Michinaga, I can’t help but wonder if her wedding looked something like this…

1 A few regions celebrate in April, however.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: