Mieko Nagano February 25,1996 : Oita City Japan

The "Hinamatsuri," which literally means "miniature doll festival," is coming soon. It is the girls' festival, with a tradition dating back hundreds of years. Dolls are displayed on a tiered stand specially set for the occasion. Beautifully arranged peach flowers also add to the festive spirit.

Rhomboid-shaped rice cakes and sweet rice wine are served as well. Other dolls also can be displayed together with the "Hina" dolls. The year is divided into 24 segments each having a specific seasonal message. March 3rd is called "the festival of peach blossoms." The display of the dolls lasts for about a month.

In the old days, on March 3rd simple hand-made dolls were thrown into the river along with offerings. Today gorgeous dolls dressed up in the "Heian" era kimono costume, and passed from generation to generation are decorated on this occasion. A male doll and a female doll are placed close to each other representing the wish for love.

Since we don't have a daughter, we have no large-scale doll display set in the home. However, we still celebrate the festival by arranging tiny male and female dolls on a small piece of scarlet velvet.

"Kokeshi," (carved wooden dolls) and other dolls are set together. On March 3rd, we enjoy "Chirashizushi" which consists of "sashimi" or fresh raw fish and other delicacies set on top of "sushi" rice in a bowl. We also take clear clam soup (Ushiojiru) and sweet rice wine.

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