Saturday, March 3, 2012

Girls' Day

3rd March today is the Hina Matsuri, which is a doll festival that is equivalent to Girls' Day.

On this day, the family prays for the happiness and healthy growth for the young daughter(s) of the family. It is a custom to display dolls on platforms covered with red carpet from mid February till 3rd March. Hence "doll festival". Food is also offered to the dolls. The dolls represent the emperor, empress, the court servants, musicians from the Heian period (784 - 1185) where the capital wasn't in Tokyo yet but in Kyoto. (The name Tokyo 東京 being "capital of the east" when they moved eastward from Kyoto) I remember when i was small, i read Doraemon and in one of the stories, Shizuka, the girl Nobita likes, had a whole display of it. ok, that's all i remember about it.

The custom originally had the dolls being floated down a river because the Japanese believed the dolls possessed the power to trap bad spirits. Setting the dolls down a river and into the sea supposedly sent the bad stuff away too. (kinda like Hell Girl) Very convenient right! But to put such expensive dolls into a boat and float them away very year is such a waste. Now they just keep and reuse every year ^^;

The arrangement of the dolls are also fixed. On the top most tier sits the emperor and the empress. The second tier has three court ladies. The third tier, five musicians. The fourth, the minster of the right and left. The fifth has three samurais. The more elaborated ones have a sixth and seventh tiers which consist of furniture and tools and carriages. Among the dolls there are also accessories like mirrors, fans, gilded folding screens, meal dishes, (fake) plants and musical instruments etc.The more exquisite it is, the richer you portray your family. It's like a Barbie royal family doll house collection but without the house. And they are forever just sitting there and collecting dust for half a month or so. Not ball-joint dolls, i suppose.

A very big family.

By the way, if you do display the dolls, remember to remove them immediately after the day. Because if you left them there past 4th March, it is said that you will have trouble getting married. Left on the shelf huh?

A pair of emperor and empress i took at a hina doll shop. Pretty colours ^^

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