Momo no Sekku in Japan

February 28, 2011 Juju Kurihara Culture, festivals, Japan Tags: 1 Comment

Momo no Sekku(桃の節句: Peach flower festival, also known as “ひな祭り”/Hinamatsuri) is the Girls' Day in Japan on the 3rdof March.

Momo no Sekku is one of the Japanese traditional events which wishes the healthy growth of girls. It started being celebrated as a seasonal festival in Heian period (794-1192) in Kyoto and it takes its origin from girls' doll play.

The most important thing for this festival is dolls, a man doll which is the symbol of the emperor and a woman doll which is the empress are displayed on the top of the stand which forms like staircases. As well as dolls, the seasonal flower, peach flower (momo flower), sake (shiro-zake/ sweet white sake) and Arare (sweet colourful rice cracker) are also important decorations. obina, mebina
momo
shirozake
arare

During Momo no Sekku, every shops and supermarkets change the display into pink and sell Arare and Ama-zake (same as shiro-zake but non-alcoholic drink for kids). As this festival is for girls, the family who has little girls is busy for the preparation because Hina-ningyo has to be decorated at least a week before the 3rdof March, then as soon as the day finishes, it has to be tidied up. It is said that if Hina-ningyo stays out after the day of Hinamatsuri, the girl will miss her chance of marriage.

I remember my father was quite paranoid about the date, but I can tell you that that is just a myth…

Now, recently this Momo no Sekku is changing its aspect.

Traditionally this display is huge that can occupy a half of or the entire living room.

On the top of the staircases, there are the emperor (otoko-bina) and the empress (onna-bina), below them there are three cour ladies (san-nin kanjo), under them there are five Nou musicians (go-nin bayashi), then two guards (u-daijin and sa-daijin), valets (three servants) . On top of these, some makers add three poets (Japanese tanka masters including the famous poet, Onono Komachi) and the turtle and crane shaped ornaments for good luck. As you can imagine, to decorate all of these together, you need a quite big space in the house.

This is getting more difficult for Japanese modern housing known as “rabbit house”. But no need to worry, of course there are Hina-ningyo set for a smaller space. (photo below)

hinadan

mini hina

Hmm, sounds like a quite competitive event for Japanese children. Momo no Sekku is no longer the event of enjoying the new season, dolls nor Momo flower. It can reveal the housing and financial matter of each family. Kids are cruel and some may say “How many dolls do you have? Oh, you don't have five musicians? That might be dead boring decoration.”

 

Five musicians? Not enough.

This can make those mean kids surprised with their mouth open.

A Japanese jewelry maker has made special Momo no Sekku dolls.

They are made of pure gold of 2kg and cost 10 million yen (about $122,050). A pair for your daughter?

gold hina

For Momo no Sekku, apart from Shiro-zake and Arare mentioned above, there is some traditional food.

First, Chirashi-zushi.

This is a type of sushi and Japanese people make it for the occation of celebration. 

chirashi
Second, Hamaguri no Ushio Jiru (clear soup of clam). As clam shells are always in pair, people drink this with thier wish for happy marriage. ushio jiru
Third, Hishi mochi (diamond shaped rice cake). This is a rice cake with three colours. Originally people ate for the new year but started to make for Hinamatsuri. The colour green means "earth", the red means "flower" and the white means "people".

hishimochi

konbini hina

Konbini store also join this Momo no Sekku sales battle.

The shops are decorated in pink and sell mini Hina ningyo. (photo avobe)

Moreover, some snack makers manufacture Hinamatsuri special packages like the photo below. Never miss the business chance…

caramel corn

When Japanese people began to celebrate Hinamatsuri, they made figures with the paper and floated them in the river for good luck. This is the tradition called "Nagashi-bina", nagashi means drift away in Japanese. There are still some regions continue this event. On the 3rd of March, people gather near the river and all float their paper Hina-dolls in the water. 

nagashi bina nagashi bina in the river

At the end, here is the song "Tanoshii Hinamatsuri" (Fun Girls' Day). By the way, curiously enough, the 3rd of March isn't a bank holiday while the Boys' Day (the 5th of May) is a bank holiday in Japan.

 

More festivals

Seijin no Hi

Hinamatsuri

Happy EasterTanabata

Nomaoi

3rd of February

Osematsuri

Kodomo no Hi

Kodomo no Hi(Boys´ Day)

Summer festival

1 Comment

  1. Kaarna 3 years Reply

    Thank you so much for this information! It was great to read this!

    How do you feel about the relationship about feminism and Momo no Sekku? Is it considered a feminist holiday? Or is it conservative and focusing on how girls should get married? I’m very interested in this subject. 🙂

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RECENT POSTS