Every year, families across Japan celebrate Hina Matsuri, otherwise known as Girls’ Day or Doll’s Day. This traditional festival, which takes place on Mar. 3, is an occasion to pray for the well-being and prosperity of little girls. It is thought that the festival has its roots in an ancient purification ceremony, in which dolls were floated down the river, taking all of the girls’ bad luck with them.
In the Edo period, Hina Matsuri was one of several sekku (seasonal festivals) celebrated in the Imperial Court, all of which were and still are marked by the enjoyment of specific food and drink. For Hina Matsuri, many indulge in hishi mochi (pink, white and green rhomboid-shaped rice cakes), shirozake (sweet white sake), chirashizushi (scattered sushi) and hamaguri no osuimono (clear clam soup). Many begin displaying their dolls from around risshun (Feb. 4), often on platforms covered in red carpet. Family dolls are hastily hidden on Mar. 4: it is said that if you put a girl’s dolls away after Hina Matsuri ends, she will marry late in life.
It is only recently that public venues have begun displaying dolls as well, focusing on dolls which express the traditions and culture of the area. These displays attract Japanese and non-Japanese tourists alike, and there are often special workshops and events held over February and March. Why not take a day trip to one of the locations in our guide? Enjoy the first days of spring and the traditional dolls and decorations native to each area!
Note: The situation regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus changes daily. Please follow local authorities’ advice by practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and following other recommended guidelines. By sharing information about events and places to go, Fukuoka Now is NOT encouraging unsafe practices. Practice safe behavior for yourself and others.
Yanagawa Hina Matsuri & Sagemon Meguri
At this time of year, Yanagawa is full of sagemon, a traditional craft native to the area. Sagemon are traditional hanging mobiles, given to newborn baby girls for their first Hina Matsuri. When walking through the town, look out for pink flags – these mark the locations where you can view sagemon. Mar. 13 (Sat.) and 14 (Sun.) is Kimono Biyori: from 10:00~15:00, many stroll around town in kimono. Visitors who show up at the Yanagawa Tourist Information Center wearing a kimono will receive some benefits such as free admission into some of the paid facilities. On Mar. 21 (Sun.), shutterbugs are drawn to Yanagawa from across the land for the Ohina-sama Water Parade: 12 river boats float down the river, each holding a bevy of little girls in bright kimono (along with their mothers), but only one also transports volunteers dressed up as the emperor and empress. (*The Ohina-sama Water Parade will be moved to Mar. 28 in case of inclement weather.)
• 2/11 (Thu., Hol.) ~ 4/3 (Sat.)
• Free (some venues charge entry fees)
• Yanagawa city area, Yanagawa Shopping Arcade (83-2 Kyo-machi, Yanagawa City, Fukuoka), etc.
• 0944-74-0891 (Yanagawa City Tourist Association)
• Check our special page “Yanagawa Hina Festival 2021”
Doll Festival at Hakata Machiya
Celebrate this year’s Doll’s Festival at Hakata Machiya! Be sure to check out the dolls and wedding costumes on the second floor of the Exhibition Hall. Visitors can also find out more about the tools used in the doll-making process and take photographs of the exhibits during the festival! Exhibits include explanations in English and Japanese.
• 3/3 (Wed.) ~ 4/4 (Sun.)
• 10:00 ~ 18:00 (admission until: exhibition hall 17:30, machiya hall 18:00)
• Exhibition Hall ¥200, free of Machiya Hall
• Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan
• 6-10 Reisenmachi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Mojiko Retro Hina Matsuri
Celebrate Girls’ Day at Mojiko Retro, the Meiji-era port town! Enjoy viewing the pretty, historical buildings and the hina doll displays at various locations throughout town: Meiji-period dolls (1868~1912) are exhibited at the Old Moji Customs Building, Taisho-era hina dolls (1912~26) are on show at the Old Moji Mitsui Club, and dolls from the Showa and Taisho periods (1912~89) are displayed at Sankiro. If you show the leaflet at the participating sweets shops in the Mojiko Retro area, you will get a gift.
Photos: Mojiko Retro Club
• 2/13 (Sat.) ~ 3/7 (Sun.) * at Old Moji Customs: until 3/3 (Wed.)
Sankiro (3-6-8 Kiyotaki, Moji-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka. *Closed: Mon.)
Old Moji Customs (1-24 Higashiminato-machi, Moji-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka)
Old Moji Mitsui Club (7-1 Minato-machi, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka)
Sakae-machi Gintengai (Sakae-machi, Moji-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka)
• 093-332-0106 (Mojiko Retro Club)
Yame Bonbori Festival
Yame is not only known for its paper, lanterns, Buddhist altars and wax, it’s also known for producing some of Kyushu’s best hina dolls. Until the mid 1950s, Yame specialized in making hakobina, dolls in special display boxes, but nowadays they make all kinds of dolls, many of which are displayed at the Yame Doll Hall – including dolls that daughters of the Tokugawa Shogun families took with them when they got married. Over 100 different locations display hina dolls, and they can be recognized by rose-colored lanterns hanging outside.
Photos: Yame City Tourism Association
• 2/14 (Sun.) ~ 3/14 (Sun.)
• Venues: Around the Yame Fukushima shirakabe (white-walled building area)
• 0943-22-6644 (Yame City Tourism Association)
Kusano no Hina Matsuri
Photos: Kurume Bureau Tourism and International Exchange
• 2/20 (Sat.) ~ 4/4 (Sat.)
• Over HS ¥100, under JHS ¥50
• Kusano History Museum
• 411-1 Kusano-machi Kusano, Kurume City, Fukuoka
• 0942-47-4410 (Kusano History Museum)
Usuki Hina Meguri
According to old manuscripts, during the revolution of the Tempo era (1841~43) the decoration of hina dolls was prohibited in the Usuki Domain in an attempt to enforce a frugal lifestyle on the people. Parents were reduced to secretly making simple dolls out of paper, so that they could still wish for the well-being of their daughters on Hina Matsuri. This story inspired Usuki Hina Meguri: back in 2006, a group of volunteers wanted to recreate the dolls of this period, but the original methods had been forgotten over time. So they used tachibina (standing dolls, the original kind of hina doll) as a starting point to create something that comes close, which are now called Usukibina. During the period, 300 pairs of Usukibina handmade by the citizens will be displayed at each venue.
Photo: Usuki City Tourist Information Association
• 2/5 (Fri.) ~ 3/7 (Sun.)
Usuki Tourism and Community Plaza (100-2 Usuki, Usuki City, Oita)
Sala de Usuki (210-3 Usuki, Usuki City, Oita) and more
• 0972-64-7130 (Usuki City Tourist Information Association)
Kitsuki Castle Town and Hiji Town Walk and Doll Tour
The castle town of Kitsuki has been officially designated a “historical town that suits kimono well”, because the area maintains the feel of the Edo-period. Many of the dolls on display here also date back to this time! This year’s Doll Tour will be held jointly by Kitsuki City and neighboring Hiji Town, where you can enjoy a walk around the city including Hinamatsuri displays, tea tasting and more.
Photos: Kitsuki Tourism Association
• 2/23 (Sat.) ~ 3/24 (Sun.)
Kitsuki Castle Town area, Oita
Yamaga region, Kitsuki City, Oita
Hiji-cho Ninomaru, Sannomaru shopping arcade area, Ogami area, Oita
• 0978-63-0100 (Kitsuki Tourism Organization)
Tenryo Hita Ohina Matsuri
During the Edo period, Hita was one of first towns in Kyushu to flourish, and this is reflected in the luxurious Edo-period hina dolls still being displayed today. Most of the venues are located in the Mameda-machi and Kuma-machi areas, and a must-see spot is Kusano Honke (a nationally designated Important Cultural Property). Look out for the elegant okiage! On Mar. 7 (Sun.) between 10:00 and 14:00, take part in Mameda Nagashibina at Keirinso Park: write a wish on a kamibina (paper doll) and send it down the river to purify yourself. Whilst you’re in the area, why not buy a coupon pack (¥1,500, valid Feb. 15 to Mar. 31) from the Hita City Tourist Information Center? Each pack contains three coupons, which you can use for a day’s bicycle rental, entry to 10 different facilities in the area, and bathing at those facilities with a sento (public bath).
Photos: Hita Tourism Association
• 2/15 (Mon) ~ 3/31 (Wed.) *venues vary by date
• Free (some venues charge entry fees)
• Venues in Mameda-machi area and Kuma area, Hita City, Oita
• 0973-57-2166 (Hita Tourism Association, Amagase Branch)
NOTE: The information presented here was gathered and summarized by the Fukuoka Now staff. While we have done our best to check for accuracy, there might be errors and details may have changed. If you notice any errors or changes, please contact us. This report was originally written in February 2017.
Originally written in February 2017, updated Feb. 2021.
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