Tokyo Now #25: March 3rd, The Dolls’ Festival for Girls and The Peach Festival
Are there any celebration days for girls’ growth and development in your country?
On March 3rd, Japan holds the Peach Festival (Hina Matsuri). It’s the day to pray for healthy growth and happiness for young children. On this day, families set up unique ornaments to arrange tiny dolls, called “Hina dolls” in Japanese.
Hina dolls, which represent the Emperor, the Empress, their servants and musicians, are usually placed on a seven-step platform. They are dressed in imperial ancient costumes.
Then, why is the Peach festival held on March 3rd?
In the beginning of spring under rapid temperature changes, we are likely to fall sick even nowadays. Especially in ancient times in Japan, due to underdeveloped medical conditions, many little children lost their lives during this season.
Therefore, in March, old Japanese people had the purification custom of floating paper dolls into rivers or in the sea to drive away evil spirits with them.
After the medieval era, wealthy samurai or aristocrats began to make the costly and valuable dolls, then they started displaying them once a year instead of setting them afloat. This is the origin of the Peach Festival (Hina Matsuri).
In the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, there is an architecture decorated with mosaic tiles called “Tokagakudo (the Peach Flower Music Hall).” This building was constructed in 1966 to celebrate the 60th birthday of the Empress Kojun. Since Her Majesty’s birthday is March 6th, the design of the construction has a deep relation to the Peach Festival. On your close look, gold Hina dolls are accessorized as a symbol of this building.
Now, Ume or Japanese plum blossoms have just started blooming in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.
It’s an excellent season to visit some Ume spots in Japan!
The image below is Ume blossoms in full bloom at Kairaku-en, one of the tree greatest gardens in Japan. Kairaku-en is especially famous for beauty of Ume, you can enjoy 100 types 3000 trees by day trip from Tokyo.