2007-03-04

Doll Man's favourite festival.

Doll Man was a diminutive crime-fighter of the 40's and 50's who had the power of being really tiny. And of course his favourite Japanese festival would have to be 雛祭り (hina matsuri).

"Hina-matsuri (Doll's Festival or Girls' Festival)" is held on March 3rd. This is a day to pray for young girl's growth and happiness. It is also called "Momo no sekku (Peach Festival)" because of the peach blossom season on the old lunar calendar. May 5th is "Kodomo no hi" (Children's Day), and this is so called "Boy's Festival." While Children's Day is a national holiday, Hinamatsuri is not. (Kind of sexist, isn't it?)

Most families with girls display 雛人魚 ("hina-ningyo" are special dolls for Hinamatsuri) and dedicate peach blossoms to them. They are usually arranged on a five or seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet. At the top are the Emperor and Empress. The next step contains three court ladies, followed by five musicians, two ministers and three servants ending the bottom row. There are also small pieces of furniture, small meal dishes, and other things as well.

おびな (Obina, the Emperor) めびな (Mebina, the Empress)

三人官女 (Sannin-kanjo, three Court Ladies): 長柄の銚子 (Nagae no choushi, a Sake holder with long handle), 三方 (Sanpou, a seated Sake holder) and 加えの銚子 (Kuwae no choushi, another Sake holder).

五人ばやし (Gonin-bayashi, five Musicians playing: 太鼓 (Taiko, a small drum), 大鼓 (Ookawa, a large hand drum), 小鼓 (Kozutsumi, a hand drum), 笛 (Fue, a flute) and 謡い方 (Utaikata, a singer with a folding fan 扇子 = sensu).

随身 (Zuishiin, two Ministers: 右大臣, Udaijin , the Minister of the Right and 左大臣 Sadaijin, the Minister of the Left)

Other Items include: 右近の橘 (Ukon no tachibana, a mandarin orange tree on the right) and 左近の桜 (Sakon no sakura, a cherry tree on the left.)

The traditional Doll's festival song うれしい雛祭り (Ureshii Hinamatsuri = Happy Doll Festival) is as follows and can be heard here.

Akari o tsukemashou bonbori ni
明かりをつけましょう ぼんぼりに
Ohana o agemashou momo no hana
お花をあげましょう 桃の花
Go-nin bayashi no fue taiko
五人ばやしの 笛太鼓
Kyo wa tanoshii Hinamatsuri
今日は楽しいひな祭り

Let's light the lanterns
Let's set peach flowers
Five court musicians are playing flutes and drums
Today is a joyful Dolls' Festival

A traditional set of dolls can be very expensive. There are various grades for the sets, and some full sets cost more than a million yen (over 10 grand!) Unless there is a set handed down from generation to generation, grandparents or parents buy them for a girl by her first Hinamatsuri , 初節句 (hatsu-zekku). However, since many Japanese live in small houses, royal couple version (with only the Emperor and the Empress dolls) is popular nowadays. There is a superstition that if you don't put away the hina-ningyo soon after March 3rd, the daughter will get married late.

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