Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.
Japanese people celebrate Girls’ day on March 3.
Hina matsuri is the Festival of Dolls and also called Girls’ Day Festival, this is the day on which wishes are expressed for the future happiness of girls. Hinamatsuri is also called Momo no Sekku, which means Seasonal Festival of Plums. This derived from one of 5 seasonal festivals (go-sekku) of China: Jooshi. People believed that evil spirits easily get into human bodies during the seasonal turning points. In China, people purified themselves by washing their bodies in the rivers on March 3. Learning from the Chinese custom, Japanese people started dolls made of paper and rubbed one’s body with the paper doll to transfer their stain. Then they send paper dolls down the river and decorating dolls to get rid of ones’ stain. This is the beginning of Hina matsuri and was established during the Edo period.
The dolls depicts the imperial court. two dolls on the top level are the Emperor and Empress, three Court Ladies on the second level, the 5 musicians on the level below, the Minister of the right/left, and the three servants on the lower-level above the beautiful furniture.
I had a gathering with some of the students on March 3, and shared simple version of Chirashi-zushi, with them. You can try it at one of the local Japanese Restaurants. It’s colourful and tasty!