The Meaning of Hina Matsuri, the Japanese Girls’ Day and Its Dolls

Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media
Published in
6 min readFeb 13, 2024

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Hina Matsuri is a festival celebrated on March 3rd to pray for the health and good future of young girls. When a girl is born into a family, it is customary for the relatives to offer hina ningyo (hina dolls). On the day of the festival, these dolls are displayed in the household.

The Origins of Hina Matsuri

The history of hina dolls is more than 10 centuries long and is a significant part of Japanese culture.

The roots of this celebration come from ancient China where on March 3rd, there was a festival designed to invite the spirits to purify and cleanse impurities. In Japan, it became a day to do harae, the Japanese version of exorcism and purification. People went near the rivers to perform purification ceremonies and had banquets. In Japanese, this day was called Joshi no Sekku, the Snake Festival, but is now called Momo no Sekku, the Peach Festival, as peach flowers bloom during this period. Peach flowers were also thought to repel bad luck in ancient China.

In ancient Japan, to purify yourself, it was customary to make a doll to take on your impurities. You would make a doll, rub it against your skin, blow on it, and let it flow along the river. At the same time, playing with dolls, hina asobi in ancient Japanese, was popular among…

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Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media

Living in Japan since 2011. I love interviewing inspiring people.