Each year on March 3rd, Japan (and a few other countries) celebrate Girls' Day.  In Japan it's known as Hinamatsuri.

The most recognizable custom for Hinamatsuri are the extravagant displays of hina dolls.  The dolls represent the emperor and empress and the royal court.  Some displays are simple, with only the emperor and empress.  Others have several different levels with dolls representing all of the royal family's attendants.  The school where I work has put together a pretty impressive Hina doll display (such a shame it's hidden in a back room on the second floor so that no one can see it!)

Other traditions include eating chirashizushi (sushi rice topped with various vegetables, fish or other toppings), hishimochi (colorful diamond shaped mochi) and ushiojiru (a kind of soup with clams in it).

There is also a Hinamatsuri song (listen to it here).  It has been playing on repeat in the supermarkets for several weeks now!

This weekend I was invited to one of my student's houses for a Hinamatsuri dinner.  Several other students and their parents came as well, making it a lively and very entertaining evening.  My student's mom had prepared all the makings for temakizushi, or hand-rolled sushi.  Basically you take a sheet of nori, add some sushi rice and fill it with whatever you like, then roll it up and eat it!  I think it's my favorite kind of sushi to eat...you get to use your fingers, and you can make a different kind of roll each time.

I forgot to take my camera with me, and my phone stayed in my bag until the end of the night when this elaborate Hinamatsuri cake was brought out! I got one picture at least!

One of my favorite things about living in Japan is when I am invited into families' homes for special occasions like this.  It's fascinating to learn about their culture and actually feel like a part of it.  I'm always so grateful to the families for inviting me and letting me take part!

Thanks for having me, Hashimoto Family!!


  1. Beautiful post Liz. What were the cake Hinayana dolls made from? I hope you got permission before socializing ha ha - Cindy

    1. Thanks, Cindy! I think the dolls were made of some sort of sugar...the girls tried to eat them, but said they were hard as rocks! Permission?! Ha! Imagine that!! ;)