Today was hina matsuri/girl’s day; a special Japanese festival just for girls (and women too^^). It is also known as momo-no-sekku, which means peach festival, because this is when Japanese peaches begin to bloom. Girls all over Japan set out their hina ningyo (festival dolls) several days or weeks before the actual day. When the festival day arrives many snacks are served, and prayers are said for the girl’s growth and happiness.
The most important dolls are the Emperor and Empress, like these two bunnies I made. Every little girl usually has a set of them. Additional dolls dressed as ministers, servants, and soldiers, as well as house wares like furniture and carriages may also be part of the display. The doll sets are often passed down from mother to daughter; some of these dolls are two hundred years old!
Here’s a full display set up with seven tiers. There’s even little tea set^^
Hina dolls were the inspiration for a project first started in 1927 and continuing today. Dolls dressed as ambassadors are exchanged between US and Japanese schools to foster friendship between the children of both countries. Many of the original dolls survived World War II, and have been restored to be treasured by a whole new group of students. You can learn more about these dolls, known as friendship dolls in the US and blue-eyed dolls in Japan, here.