Today is Hinamatsuri Day or the Japanese Doll Festival in Japan. Hinamatsuri originated during the Heian Era (8th to 12Th century A.D.) The Heian Era, meaning peaceful or tranquil era, was a time when a lot of famous Japanese art and literature came about. Genji Monogatari or The Tale of Genji, or sometimes also known as Hikaru Genji or the Shining Genji, which is thought to be one of the oldest if not the oldest novel, was written by Murasaki Shikibu (pen name) during this Era. Both Murasaki Shikibu, and her arch rival Sei Shonagon (pen name) , author of The Pillow Book are thought of as being possibly the world’s first female novelists and often wrote tales that revolved about Japanese Imperialism.
During the Heian Era, the imperial pecking order was of ut-most importance. This is depicted in the ordering of the Hina dolls when placed on their stands. And although the ordering seems to vary from region to region, the dolls that depict the Emperor and Empress is always on the very top or in some displays, the only dolls that are shown.
Hina Doll displays range in many sizes. It can be a simple one tier display, or it can be as large as seven tiers which are extremely elaborate and can take many hours to set up. My wife’s mother had kept my wife’s Hina dolls for her since she was a baby, and although quite old, it is the most elaborate full seven tier display. The whole set took nearly 3 hours to set up and took up nearly 1/4 of the space in our Japanese room in house. The dolls are in excellent condition, but the the stages are starting fall apart, so I suggested that we buy a new stage next year, otherwise it could be dangerous should the thing decide to fall apart.
Traditionally, the display is setup several days to several weeks before the Hinamatsuri, so that it can be admired etc., and then taken down promptly after the Hinamatsuri. This year, since it is Haruka’s first Hinamatsuri, we put the stage up during the first weeks of February just so we could enjoy it longer. Although it took a long time to set up, most likely it will be taken down tonight or tomorrow night and shipped back to the in-law’s house until next year. We would keep it here, but the whole display is so huge that we have no where to store it other than the attic. But Unfortunately, the summer heat could damage the dolls so, we though it would be best to send it back to maintain the longevity of the dolls.
Finally, as Haruka approaches her 100th day of life out of the womb, we had a second ceremony to celebrate this occasion. Basically the ceremony consisted of fixing Haruka a somewhat elaborate meal on miniaturized Japanese tableware and taking pictures of her. The ceremony is done to ensure that Haruka will never go through hardship or be short of food. Since Haruka is still not on solid foods, the food that was prepared by my wife is purely for ceremonial purposes, and so we would up eating it for dinner.
Haruka’s ceremonial first dinner
Full sized version for the adults
Ceremonially sipping on her soup
Ceremonially eating a strawberry.
Finishing her first dinner
The seven tier Hina doll display.