Every February, many families and public places across Japan erect elaborate displays of the Emperor’s court in honor of Hina Matsuri, or Girls’ Day – celebrated on March 3rd. These displays, which originated in the Heian Period (794-1185 AD) in Japan’s history, are often multi-tiered and intricate representations of the entire court, from the traditional 5 musicians, to the
tiny little representations of the royal table complete with festival treats such as Hina Arare (sweet little rice crackers) or chirashizushi (mixed fish over rice).
Though the displays can be enjoyed across the country for most of the month of February, it is imperative that they all be taken down by March 4th, or the superstition says that the girls of the house will marry late, or won’t marry well, or something of that nature. Taking all of the intricate little pieces down and putting them away in the proper boxes for storage for a year is quite a feat. Every little hat has to be wrapped; each doll perfectly preserved, and every bit of teensy tableware stored. It’s quite an undertaking. Just when you think you have everything wrapped, then all the small boxes have to be put neatly in bigger boxes for storage – don’t forget that space is at a major premium in Japan, so everything has to be as compact as possible.
Here are a few photos of the disassembling of the Hina Matsuri display yesterday at the Nishimachi International School.