"Hinamatsuri" or Girl's Day is a festival celebrating the health and growth of girls, held on March 3rd of every year. Japanese households display Girl's Day Dolls or "hina-ningyo", little girls dress up in kimonos and eat "chirashizushi", a special type of sushi, and a snack called "hina-arare" made of sweetened rice kernels.


Chirashizushi which literally means "scattered-sushi" is usually served in a box or a bowl instead of in the conventional fish-on-top-of-rice style. The ingredients are mixed or scattered in the vinegared rice which is then decorated with fish, shrimp or crab meat, vegetables like snow peas or string beans, and "kinshi-tamago" or thin strips of egg. This type of sushi is usually made at home instead of being eaten at a sushi restaurant.


Hina-arare are bits steamed rice which has been dried, then roasted, then coated with sugar. It is light and crunchy, and has a sweet taste. If you like rice cakes, you're sure to like this too. It can be found in supermarkets and even convenient stores in the period leading up to Girl's Day, so try have some.


traditional hinaninryo
The traditional Girl's Day doll set is made out of 7 platforms, but many households now only display the topmost platform which holds the Emperor and the Empress, for lack of space. The 2nd platform holds the 3 court ladies, the 3rd platform holds the 5 male musicians, and the 4th platform holds the 2 ministers. The 5th platform holds the 3 samurai who protect the imperial couple, the 6th platform holds the items used inside the palatial residence, and the last 7th platform holds the items outside of the residence. Nowadays they sell tiny doll sets made out of wood or earthenware which would make great souvenirs.

Katsuura Big Hinamatsuri

katsuura hinamatsuri
In Katsuura, they have a huge Girl's Day festival in which they have 25,000 dolls displayed throughout the town. At the Tomisaki Shrine, there are 1,200 dolls displayed using the 60 steps leading to the shrine. It's also lit up when the sun sets. It's the biggest Girl's Day festival event in the Kanto area, so I recommend taking a trip down to Katsuura in Chiba Prefecture if you're visiting Tokyo during this period.
Toumisaki Shrine
Event period: Feb. 21st - March 3rd, 2014
Time: 9:00 - 19:00 (closed in bad weather)
Address: 1 Katsuura, Katsuura-shi, Chiba prefecture 299-5233
Tel: 0470-73-0034
Fax: 0470-73-2007

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