By Hoshino Sakura
Today one of our regular readers, Hoshino Sakura, who lives in Japan, takes a turn on SOTD to choose a song for a special occasion …
Girls’ day, also known as Hina Matsuri (Dolls’ Day) is a really positive festival to celebrate the joy that daughters bring to family. For my family with two daughters it was always a big deal.
The festival features beautiful dolls, which, In most houses are displayed on a red background, red being an auspicious colour in Japanese tradition.
Peach blossoms, sake, and rice cakes are placed on the stand with the hina dolls as an offering to the gods. The dolls used for this are exquisite and usually passed from one generation to the next.
Traditionally they represent the Emperor and Empress from the Hian period and are dressed in that style of costume, but these days there are also some really cute modern versions. Dolls are displayed during the last weeks of February until the day of the festival which is 3rd March.
During this period girls invite their friends to a party. Presents are given to the girls and special sweets and deserts are made and eaten at these occasions. They are really a lot of fun!!!
On the day of the festival, particular food is prepared. Hishi-mochi are diamond-shaped rice cakes coloured in pink (for peach flowers), white (for snow), and green (for new growth). They symbolise the change from winter to spring. Families visit the local Shinto shrine and girls will often dress in traditional clothes and all look super cute!!!
However, the origins of the festival are dark indeed.
Before the Heian period which began in AD 794 the practice of femicide was widespread in Japan. Particularly during periods where food was in short supply female children would often be drowned in rivers or the sea. Girls were regarded as a burden to families – boys were needed to work in the fields or to go fishing.
Emperor Kanmu established a festival called Hina Nagashi in AD 794 to try and stop this practice and build respect for girls and raise their prestige in families. Dolls were made to symbolise this, and prayers said so any evil sprits that could harm the girls would be captured in the dolls. They would then be sent out to sea or floated away on rivers and girls would be celebrated in the Shinto shrines. By choosing the 3rd March which is one of the Sakku – days that mark the turning of the seasons and highly important to farmers and fisherman – he gave this festival highly important symbolic significance.
Now nearly 1,500 years later in Japan girls and their contribution to the family and the wider world is not questioned, and daughters are valued and appreciated for the joy they bring to a family.
Unfortunately this is not the case in many parts of Asia and world. Girls in many countries suffer terrible hardship and the denial of their human rights and live miserable lives
However, this, as a Japanese woman, is the day is the day when I give thanks that I was born in Japan where I was given a loving and supportive family and the opportunity to have an education, go to university and develop a career. In Asia this is not something that not all girls can aspire to.
Of course boys can suffer hardship in many countries, and this is not a competition. There is a special day for boys also in Japan on 5th May.
So, I ask you, today 3 March, for Hina Matsuri, to pray for girls everywhere that they can grow and be appreciated and live in peace and happiness. If you do are not religious, and do not pray, then please spend a moment to think about girls in those countries where life is much harder.
The video has shows beautiful photographs of the dolls and some typical Hina Matsuri things. The song was recorded in 1936 and is a lovely version of the song.
The words describe the festival and the events that take place during it.
Happy Hina Matsuri to you and any girls in your family!!!
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