Japanese parents cherish their pre-teen daughters and hail their health and happiness with displays of small dolls – hina – every March 3. Ornamental only and not for play, they represent the enthroned Emperor and Empress and their attendants, garbed in the sumptuous court robes of 1,000 years ago.
As part of the festival, girls hold parties with friends and enjoy traditional foods such as eaten by Japan’s ancient rulers and nobles. Superstition says the dolls must be stored the day after the celebration: leaving them too long on show may result in a girl’s eventual marriage being delayed. Doll displays usually end after a girl turns 10; a family will then stow away its set of hina treasure-like, awaiting the day when it can be passed down to a little girl grown into a woman with daughters of her own to honor.
Our doll set is a vintage one, more than a century old. Its Emperor and Empress have gazed regally upon multiple generations of young girls. You can gaze back, in admiration of their meticulously detailed costumes and their many retainers, on view in all their finery from February 15 to March 16.