Japanese Lessons

The Ultimate Guide to Hinamatsuri Girl Power

Hinamatsuri-Katsuura-Chiba-Japan-Temple-Wasabi-4

Girl power delivers a mighty punch of pastels and prettiness on March 3rd in Japan. Why? Hinamatsuri. The kanji (Chinese characters) translates to Dolls’ Festival. Hinamatsuri is also referred to as Girls’ Day.
Stroll into any department store (mid-February until March 3.) You’ll see Hinamatsuri displays. Entire Imperial Courts are replicated with dolls. Exquisite kimono embrace porcelain figures with delicate faces. Less expensive Hello Kitty variations of the doll set appear, too.

In the depa-chika (department store basements) Hinamatsuri cakes and Japanese rice crackers entice customers, too. Definitely make time for a depa-chika experience. (Japanese department store basements give London’s famed Harrods’ food court a run for their money.)




ひなまつりにんぎょうは素敵すてきです。
Hinamatsuri dolls are beautiful.
この雛祭ひなまつりケーキは素敵すてきです。
This Hinamatsuri cake is beautiful.

Hinamatsuri Japan Dolls' Festival Girls' Day Japanese culture Emperor Empress candy Japanese sweets NinjaBaker.com social media

Today Hinamatsuri dolls, hishi-mochi (rice cakes) and hina-arare (assorted crackers) contribute to a beautiful girl power party. However, Hinamatsuri was developed as a strategy to protect daughters from harm. Dolls were cast into the sea (or a river) taking with them any dangerous spirits. The idea was that disease and evil was transferred to the dolls. Hina-nagashi “doll floating” is the name of the practice.

Hinamatsuri treats also have history.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right?
Hishi-mochi are diamond-shaped tricolored mochi (pounded rice) cakes. 
The standard trio of colors is pink, white and green. 
Pink symbolizes good health; the white layer promises longevity; green signifies new life.

Sprinkle your sushi rice with auspiciousness.
Chirashi is sushi rice topped with (a variety of goodies and) good luck foods on Girls’ Day.
Shrimp symbolizes longevity.
Green soybeans are sprinkled atop vinegar-infused rice. Mame (soybeans) are seen as providers of energy. Impress your Japanese friends with this expression: “mame ni hataraku.” (With soybeans you can work…Implying if you are healthy and able to work for a long time, income will keep flowing your way.) (Kuromame black soybeans are served for the same reason on New Year’s Day.)
Lotus roots (renkon another New Year’s food) is served atop chirashi sushi. The multiple openings of the lotus root are thought to enhance perspective. The vegetable is propitious for allowing an unobstructed long-term view.

Happy as a clam.
Japanese-Hinamatsuri-Heian-Art-Clam-WASABI_3
Osuimono (clear soup) made with clams is also served for Hinamatsuri. The nobles of the Heian period played with painted clamshells. It was a matching game. Those whose shells were the most similar were said to be compatible sweethearts.
Side note: The Heian paintings in the clam (hamaguri) shells are amazing.
Travel to Awashima Shrine in Wakayama (south of Osaka) to witness hina-nagashi. Or take a train to Katsuura in Chiba. (Depending on whether you catch an express or local; 2 to 3 hours by train from Tokyo.) Everyone from the banker, to the baker, to the bookstore owner displays his or her best Hinamatsuri doll sets in Katsuura.

すみませんが勝浦かつうらしきたいです。この電車でんしゃ勝浦かつうらしきですか?
Excuse me but I want to go to Katsuura. Is this train heading for Katsuura?
すみませんが和歌山わかやま粟嶋神社あわしまじんじゃかたおしえてください
Excuse me but please tell me how to get to Awashima Shrine in Wakayama.

Japan’s Hinamatsuri coincides with peach blossom season. March 3rd in Japan is one beautiful girl power party.

P.s. On March 4th, everyone takes down his or her Hinamatsuri displays. Superstition dictates this nationwide action. Daughters are allegedly doomed to spinsterhood if the dolls remain after March 4th.

雛祭ひなまつり
Girls’ Day, Dolls’ Festival
デパ地下でぱちか
department store basement(where vast food halls are found)
ひなまつりにんぎょうは素敵すてきです。
Hinamatsuri dolls are beautiful.
この雛祭ひなまつりケーキは素敵すてきです。
This Hinamatsuri cake is beautiful.
菱餅ひしもち
rhombus shaped rice cakes
雛菓子ひなあられ
Hinamatsuri bite-size rice crackers
雛流ひななが
Doll-floating
雛餅もち
pounded rice
ちらし寿司ずし
Vinegar and sugar infused sushi rice with veggies and other goodies sprinkled on top. Chirashi literally means to scatter.
まめ
soybeans
まめはたら
Expression: Able to work diligently. (Mame means soybeans and it also means diligent.)
黒豆くろまめ
black soybeans
蓮根れんこん
lotus root
もの
clear broth
はまぐり
clams
すみませんが勝浦かつうらしきたいです。この電車でんしゃ勝浦かつうらしきですか?
Excuse me but I want to go to Katsuura. Is this train heading for Katsuura?
すみませんが和歌山わかやま粟嶋神社あわしまじんじゃかたおしえてください
Excuse me but please tell me how to get to Awashima Shrine in Wakayama.

Kim Watkinson, The Ninja Baker
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