Every 3rd of March in Japan, we celebrate girls and daughters on this Girl’s Day, also called Doll Festival or Peach Festival. We wish for their happiness and health when growing up.
Let me introduce you to how we celebrate this special day in Japan and how long we have continued this beautiful tradition.
History of Hinamatsuri:
The tradition started in the middle of the Heian period (about 1000 years ago). People in that era were holding an event to exorcise bad luck and wish for good health at the beginning of March. The Onmyoji predicted good and bad fortunes from astronomy and earthly signs for the humans, prayed to the gods of heaven and earth, offered food, and entrusted disasters and misfortunes to ornamental dolls and shed them to rivers and the sea to hope for good luck. These events are called "Nagashi Hina" and are still continuing in various places.
Nowadays, we usually display a set of dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in the traditional court dress of the Heian period. This practice is called “Hinamatsuri”. We display the dolls for around 1 month and have the saying that if you are late to remove your doll display you will marry late. The dolls are not discarded but used year after year again. The official set includes 15 dolls. I’m really grateful to my parents who bought this gorgeous “Hinaningyo” for me. They are still decorating every year and taking extra care of it even though I’m not living in Japan anymore and am now married.
What do we eat on Hinamatsuri?
We eat Chirashizushi, clear clam soup, “Hishi Mochi”(red, white and green colored diamond-shaped rice cakes) and “Hina Arare”(rice crackers).
What is the “Chirashizushi”?
“Chirashi” literally means to scatter. As you can see, the sushi and other ingredients are scattered over the rice. Chirashizushi is one of the most popular sushi varieties that you can eat at restaurants and also at home.
I created this Chirashizushi based on vinegared sushi rice and fresh salmon, tuna, scallops, prawns, sweet Tamagoyaki egg and cucumber as toppings. I marinated the fish and seafood in soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil, similar to Ahi Poke Bowl. I also cooked Chawanmushi egg custard as a side dish.
In the Kansai area where I am from we call it “Gomokuzushi”. It contains mixed simmered vegetables with rice, decorated with shredded Kinshi Tamago egg and shredded Nori seaweed sheets on top. In the Kantou area, they decorate sashimi fish on top of vinegared sushi rice.
The picture at the top shows a Kantou style Chirashizushi that I made. The picture below shows my own creation of a mixed Kansai and Kantou Chirashizushi cake based on brown rice with mixed simmered vegetables: shiitake, carrot and konnyaku; sliced cucumber wrapped around it, shredded egg Kinshi Tamago on top of the rice, decorated with avocado, rose shaped salmon, tuna and tobiko.
You can learn how to make sushi rice and how to cut sashimi in my Hand Roll Sushi Class and Geisha Sushi Class. Click here to find more information.