Every day should be a celebration of girls around the world but in Japan there is a day dedicated to girls called Hinamatsuri, which is on March 3rd. Yes, I’m a little late posting about this but today, 8th March, is International Women’s Day, so I think I can get away with it and love the fact that there are two celebrations of females within a week.
雛祭り(Hinamatsuri) which directly translates to doll’s festival is better known as girl’s day and is a tradition that is celebrated annually by families with girls, to wish them health and future happiness.
My OH and I are both Brits but as Little Miss was born in Tokyo we are keen to ensure she remembers her birth place, so we bought a simple Hinaningyo (dolls) set when she was a year old and display them every year a week or so before the event.
Traditionally the Hinaningyo set includes the Emperor and Empress along with their attendants and some iconic possessions, which are displayed over a number of tiered platforms. As you can imagine the cost of such a set is very expensive and it also requires space that in most modern Japanese homes is at a premium. Therefore, most girls are gifted just the Emperor and Empress dolls by their parents or grandparents and in many cases are family heirlooms that are passed down through generations.
Like most traditions across the globe food plays an important part of the celebration and Girl’s Day is no exception. Along with the dolls, Hina-arare, a sweet puffed rice snack, is put out for the children to enjoy.
Chirashizushi, raw fish and vegetables served on sushi rice, is often served as a special meal. It is very pretty to look at and ingredients and presentation vary according to personal taste. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to get ikura, salmon roe, which adds the vibrant orange to the dish but I use what I can and it is a hit when we have it in our house.
As it is not easy to purchase the traditional sweet treats such as hishi mochi (tri-coloured rice cakes) or ichigo daifuku (strawberries covered in sweet bean paste) in the UK, I like to put my twist on dessert for my little princess. This year I made some edible Hinaningyo to decorate her plate, of course she wanted to eat them but we limited her to just taking a nibble.
We are guilty of spoiling Little Miss at times but it seems appropriate to make the day a bit special and give a little gift. In the past we have given a small bunch of flowers but this year I thought an inspirational book would be appropriate and found this which is really vibrant and colourful.
Even after leaving Japan almost three years ago Little Miss refers to herself as half Japanese, which can cause some confusion! However, I love that she still feels a connection to the country that was our home and holds such a special place in our hearts, and look forward to observing the Japanese traditions that we brought home with us to the UK for years to come.