The Hinamatsury Festival in Japan.
By, Uwe Paschen.
Today is Hinamatsury, here in Japan. This is the Japanese Doll Festival (雛祭り Hina-matsuri), or Girls' Day, Hinamatsuri is held on March 3, the third day of the third month. A Platforms with a red hi-mōsen is set up to display a set of ornamental dolls (雛人形 hina-ningyō?) those dolls are representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period (running from 794 to 1185). Heian (平安) means "peace and tranquility" in Japanese. It was a era of peace in Japans history.
Prior to the Heian period was the Nara period after wish the capital of Japan was moved to Heian-kyō (present day Kyoto), by the 50th emperor, Emperor Kammu. This was a high point in Japanese culture that is still admired and honoured by today’s generation in Japanese film, music, art and theatre as wellas poetry, even J-pop group the Mini Moni released a song Minimoni Hinamatsuri! Commemorating and celebrating this festival.
The Heian period was also the era for the rise of the samurai class, which would eventually take power and start the feudal period of Japan. It was also the high point of Confucianism and other Chinese influences in Japanese History.
The custom of Hinamatsury (the Japanese Doll Festival (雛祭り Hina-matsuri), or Girls' Day) started in the Heian period( from 794 to 1185) as well. In ancient times people here in Japan had a custom called hina-nagashi (雛流し, lit. "doll floating"), This custom consisted in making Straw hina dolls wish where then set afloat on a boat on a river eventually reaching the sea.
The dolls are to take troubles and bad spirits with them. Today though because the fisherman keep on cashing the dolls in their nets the practice has changed some what. Now after the ceremony those dolls that are send down the rivers and cot again after every one has gone home, then the dolls are broth back to the Shrines where they are burned.
However, the dolls that are set up on the seven platforms are not to be send down the rivers nor to be burned. Those are carefully crafted by hand, following strict rules of traditional art and craftsmanship. Even the set up on the seven platforms has its strict order.
The upper platform holds two dolls, known as Imperial dolls (内裏雛 (だいりびな) da-i-ri-bi-na) representing the Emperor (御内裏様 O-dairi-sama) and Empress (御雛様 O-hina-sama) (dairi means "Imperial Palace", and hina means "girl" or "princess").
This first platform is followed by six more platforms namely the san-nin kanjo (三人官女).
On the second Platform are the three court Ladies, those are the sake-bearer Nagae no choushi (長柄の銚子) and they have a strict order as well. (See Picture).
The third platform is composed of five male musicians go-nin bayashi (五人囃子).
The Fourth Platform is composed of two Ministers or priest (左大臣 Sadaijin).
The Fifth Platform holds three helpers or samurai to protect the emperor and empress.
On the remaining six and seventh platform are a variety of miniature furniture, tools, carriages, etc. on display.
It is an impressive set up and all girls take part in it. Much pride and care is put into those dolls and Many homes have a collection of them on display in the living room and or the Girls Bed Room. Malls and shops all have their own grandiose display as well and some museums are specialized in the up keeping of those precious doll.
Of course what would a festival be with out its own customary Drink wish would be the amazake, a sweet, non-alcoholic version of sake made from fermented rice; and this has to be consumed with colored arare, bite-sized crackers flavored with soy sauce and soup non the less is also served containing clams still in the shell. The Clam shells in the food are the symbol of a unity and peace for the Imperial couple, because only the original pair of clam shell can fit perfectly together and no other pair can.
Of course there is also a Boys festival, however not today, that one will be celebrated latter in May. Today is the Day for Girls and only for Girls.