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Point of interest: 雛祭り(ひなまつり)

雛祭り(ひなまつり) - Japan's annual doll festival and girl's day
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ひなまつ
り, more commonly encountered in the form ひな
まつ
り, literally means 'doll festival', and is celebrated on the 3rd March every year. ひなり is a traditional family day in Japan, and commonly known as 'Girl's day' due to the custom of creating elaborate displays of
ひな
にんぎょう
, hina dolls, on multi-tiered platforms known as
ひなだん
.
The origins of the date back thousands of years to a custom that originally began in China as a means of ridding oneself of bad luck and evil spirits. A paper or straw ひな is rubbed over one's body, transferring the evil to it, and then put on a boat and floated out to sea. One of the largest celebrations of this custom, known as
ながしひな
, 'floating dolls', used to be put on by the Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto at the junction of the two main rivers, the Takano and Kamo, but is now held out at sea due to problems with the dolls getting caught in fishing nets.
The are multi-tiered platforms covered in brightly colored red carpet. In a typical household dolls are placed on up to seven levels, but in some elaborate examples they can cover hundreds of steps of a temple staircase! Dolls on each level represent different court members from the
へいあん
じだい
, the Heian Era, starting with the Emperor, Empress, and then various attendants and musicians. All the dolls wear traditional court dress of the Heian Era - elaborate multi-layered kimono called
じゅうにひとえ
for women, and
そくたい
for males.
The Heian Era (literally 'peace era') of Japanese history, which began in 794 and lasted almost 200 years, is considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and was a period in which poetry and literature flourished. The capital of Japan was moved to
へいあんきょう
, which became modern day
きょうと
, Kyoto, and remained there for almost 1000 years, until the
めいじ
いしん
, the Meiji restoration, in 1868, which was the beginning of modern Japan.
ひな
is a Jinmeiyō kanji, i.e. it is used in names (such as the girl's name ひな) - in total it appears in over 100 Japanese names. It has a frequency of 2357, which makes it less common than (most of) the 2136 Jōyō kanji, but more common than most of the kanji used only in names. It actually means 'chick' (as in, baby bird), and is composed of the two components and . is a very common component meaning 'little bird' - it is used as
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. is a much less common component meaning 'mow (grass etc.)'. makes more sense when you see it is composed of two more basic elements, both very common - meaning 'wrap' and meaning 'sprout'. Putting these components together, we have the Kanshudo mnemonic for : 'you mow the grass () for the little bird () as it's just a chick'.
り is also a great opportunity to sample some colorful and tasty traditional Japanese dishes, in particular ちらし
ずし
, chirashizushi (a mix of vegetables, egg and seafood scattered on top of sushi rice),
わがし
Japanese cakes and desserts, in particular the three-colored
ひしもち
, hishimochi.

Words used in this point of interest

noun
1. young bird; chick  (often written with kana only)
2. hina doll; doll displayed during the Girls' Festival  (this meaning is restricted to reading ひな)
(click the word to view an additional 2 readings, 1 meaning and 4 forms)
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noun
Hinamatsuri (March 3rd); Girls' Festival; Dolls' Festival  (see also: 三月の節句)
(click the word to view an additional 3 forms)
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noun
hina doll; doll displayed during the Girls' Festival
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noun
doll; puppet; figure
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2
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noun
paper dolls floated downriver on March 3rd
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noun
1. tiered doll stand (for hina dolls)  (see also: 雛人形)
2. tiered platform; tiered gallery
(click the word to view an additional 3 forms)
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noun
Heian period (794-1185)
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noun
1. twelve-layered ceremonial kimono (worn by a court lady)
2. ajuga (Ajuga nipponensis); bugle
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noun
old ceremonial court dress
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noun
Kyoto
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noun
Meiji Restoration
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noun
sushi rice in a box or bowl with a variety of ingredients sprinkled on top  (see also: ばら寿司, 五目鮨; food term)
(click the word to view an additional 3 forms)
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noun
wagashi; traditional Japanese confectionery
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noun
rhombus-shaped mochi
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Kanji used in this point of interest

ひな chick, young bird   
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サイ   まつ festival   まつ to deify, enshrine   
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4
ジン   ニン   ひと man   
1
ケイ   ギョウ   shape   かたち    かた    
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3
ダン   タン    podium   
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5
ル   リュウ   ながれる to flow   なが to pour out, to flush    
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3
ヘイ   ビョウ   たい flat   ひら ordinary; flat   
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3
アン   やす peaceful; cheap   
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2
ジ   とき time, occasion   
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1
タイ   ダイ   かえる to replace, to exchange   かわる to be exchanged   よ the world   しろ substitute   
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2
ジュウ   ジッ   と    とお ten   
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1
ニ   ふた    ふた two   
1
タン    simple   
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3
ソク   たば bundle   たばねる to tie in a bundle   
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3
タイ   belt   おび sash   おびる to wear, to carry   
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4
キョウ   ケイ    capital   
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2
ト   ツ   みやこ capital city, metropolis   
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3
メイ   ミョウ   あかり light   あかるい bright   あかるむ to brighten   あからむ to become luminous (at dawn)   あきらか obvious   あかす to lay bare   あ to open   あける to empty   
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2
ジ   チ   おさめる to govern   おさまる to be at peace   なお to get better   なお to cure   
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3
イ    fiber, rope   
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5
シン   あたらしい    あら    にい- new   
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2
little bird
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スウ    to mow, to cut grass   
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wrap
sprout (ie, new shoot of a plant)   
寿
ジュ   ス   ことぶき longevity   
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4
シ    administer   
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5
ワ   オ    peace, harmony   なご to be calmed down   なごやか calm, gentle   やわらぐ to be softened   やわらげる to soften; to alleviate   
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3
カ    candy   
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4
シ   ス   こ child   
1
リョウ   diamond   ひし    
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ヘイ   もち mochi   
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