The seasons have changed and I have been building anticipation for spring by following along with Japanese celebrations. The one that passed most recently was Hinamatsuri. It loosely translates to Doll’s Festival. The festival is to wish for the happiness and healthy development of the girls in the household. In homes across the country, displays of dolls were put up for this occasion.
It is a beautiful little celebration that happens the beginning of March, on the third, every year. A display of these dolls that mimic the old capital’s court, where there is even an Emperor and Empress. The display can be elaborate with entire court and treasures or, simply a little display with just the Emperor and Empress. Just by touching the dolls while setting up, it is believed that any illness and bad luck would then be transferred to the dolls instead.
During this time it is traditional to give candy to the little girls, Hishimochi is most traditional. It is a three-layered mochi. From the top there is pink which is said to expel evil spirits, white represents purity and, green represents wishes for good health. Some say that the Hishimochi layers actually represent the changes to spring. Sakura flowers are represented by pink, snow by the white and green is grass.
How does this celebration effect the tea world? If you were looking through your suggested photos on Instagram perhaps you saw some from Japan during this time. It was common to see various sweets to celebrate. You can see sweets for tea mimicking the two main characters in the dolls. From dry sweets such as higashi and even moist sweets like nerikiri. They are both beautiful and delicious.
One last point, these displays are only up till March third, that night it is taken down. It is thought that if the dolls are left out on March fourth that the girls would not marry, have misfortune in marriage prospects etc. This is because the number four is considered bad luck.
Even though this celebration is over, now is a great time to look for a doll display for next year. I am still looking for one and can not wait to show you. I have been wanting to have displays for all of the seasonal festivities in Japan and took the leap this year. Stay tuned for Hanami.