Girl’s Doll Festival – Hina Matsuri

March 3rd was ‘Hina Matsuri’ or ‘Girl’s Day’. On this day, all families with a daughter display a set of traditional Japanese dolls in their house. But apparently the habit isn’t limited to people with daughters. Ever since early February, I have encountered these ‘hina dolls’ (‘hina’ is the japanese word for doll) everywhere I went: in malls, community centers, restaurants, etc. I had heard about Hina Matsuri before coming to Japan but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is still so widely practiced.

The traditional doll display is hughe. It has seven storeys and portrays an imperial household, compete with furniture, servants and musicians.

hina matsuri emperor and empress
The first two levels contain an emperor and empress with three court ladies below them
hina matsuri minister of the left
A member of the imperial household. My best guess would be that he is 'the minister of the left'.
hina doll display
A few elaborate hina doll displays

Imagine having such a contraption in your living room, especially in a small Japanese apartment. No wonder that these days there are many modern and more minimalist options available as well.

hina matsuri minimalist
Minimalist hina dolls. Notice the 12 layers of fabric in the doll's clothing, which represent the 12 layer kimono's from the Heian period (called jūnihitoe).
hina matsuri mouse
And last but not least, my favourite: a hina doll mouse, wearing a kimono. Kawaii!

14 thoughts on “Girl’s Doll Festival – Hina Matsuri

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  1. Thank you. A friend of mine collects very old Japanese damascene, he found two, both, have 2 childrens toys each,on them. One, was a mouse. It is very hard to find a traditional toy Japanese mouse, I am glad to see this one !

    1. I think the mouse was hand made by a relative of the person who showed me the dolls. But there are shops in Kyoto where they sell little cloth figures in the same style.

  2. My Japanese grandmother makes 木目込み人形 (Kimekomi Dolls). She is a licensed doll maker and has made a hina set worth about 百万円 (1,000,000 yen or roughly 9200 euro) including the decorations and stand. I wish I could have seen it! Her other hina doll sets are not quite expensive (but still around 7,000,000 yen) and they are very beautiful. I love Hina Matsuri! 🙂

    1. I was amazed to hear what a traditional doll set costs. I was told the price can be up to 500.000 yen, which roughly amounts to 5000 euro. What an investment it must to be to buy such a set for the first time! Apparently the girl’s maternal grandparents are supposed to pay for it. I guess you can count yourself lucky if there have been girls in the family before and you can inherit a set.

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