Hinamatsuri - Japanese Doll Celebration

Open today 11—18
14.2.2020 11:00 — 1.3.2020 18:00

From Friday 14.2. to Sunday 1.3., the National Museum celebrates Hinamatsuri, the Japanese doll festival. Get to know the annual tradition that dates back over 400 years, celebrating health and happiness of girls and women. The dolls are located on the upper middle floor of the National Museum. The space is unfortunately not accessible for wheelchair access or prams.

In kind cooperation with Tokyokan, Zennoh International, Hamamatsu Finland Association and the Japanese Embassy in Finland

Hinamatsuri

Hinamatsuri, or the doll festival, is a traditional Japanese celebration intended for girls. It is celebrated on the third of March each year. The purpose of the festival is to celebrate the health and happiness of girls and women. The festivities centre around the hinakazari arrangement, which features dolls dressed in historical outfits in a formation on seven tiers.

The origin of hinamatsuri

Hinamatsuri was first celebrated in its current form in the beginning of the Tokugawa period (1603–1868). However, the tradition dates back to the Heian period (794–1185), when the emperor’s court would celebrate spring. Originally, the purpose of the festival was to celebrate the onset of spring, and it was also called momo no sekku (the peach festival).

People in villages would make small human figurines from paper, clay and wood for the celebration. The dolls were associated with accidents and evil spirits. Villagers would come together and throw the dolls into the river or put them on small boats made from grass and let them float away on the water, because it was believed that this would protect the girls. Gradually towards the end of the 19th century, the dolls became more intricate, and people started selling them in the market in the weeks leading up to the festival. The hinakazari arrangement was not necessarily bought all at once; rather, people might collect the seven dolls one by one over the years.

A girl’s first doll or dolls were often purchased for her first hinamatsuri. The dolls would be displayed by the family each year until the girl turned 10. The more affluent the family, the more elaborately decorated the dolls were. Nearly all families owned at least some kind of hinakazari arrangement. Because displaying larger arrangements took time and effort, the dolls were eventually displayed for the entire month of March. The hinamatsuri festival has changed shape over the years, and what remains of the original tradition today is displaying the dolls to celebrate Girls’ Day.

The entity on display at the National Museum of Finland was originally owned by a samurai family. It was made approximately 50 years ago in Tokyo.