Doll’s Festival


In ancient China, there was a custom of offering and praying on days when odd numbers of 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 overlap.

In Japan, it became an annual event like a festival during the Heian period (around 700-1000AD). It started as a festival where both men and women purified themselves enjoying Peach blossom. Peach means good luck and long life in China.

Later since May 5th was a celebration for boy’s health and good luck, March 3rd became a festival wishing for girl’s health, growth and happiness. As part of the celebration, dolls representing a royal wedding at an imperial palace play an important part.


The Prince and Princess sit on top of the stairs followed by 3 female maids, 5 male bands, 2 guards, 3 male servants. If you are rich, you have all these 15 dolls with treasure boxes to store them in and even extravagant accessories like a carriage. You don’t necessary need all 15 dolls, just the Prince and Princess, which are the most important dolls.

On March 3 we also eat some meaningful dishes with significance behind them like Chirashi Zushi, Sweet sake, diamond shaped mochi, rice puff and clam soup. For example, clams do not fit perfectly unless they are paired shells, they represent a happy couple who married each other for the rest of their lives. My family often ate Sakura mochi which is a pink colored cherry blossom flavored mochi since that was my favorite mochi.


Since Japanese did not have a custom for celebrating birthdays every year (it wasn’t until 1945 that the law to count Western way of age was enacted) Doll’s Day was a day that all girls got a special treat.

When I was a little girl, once a year, decorating those pretty dolls out of the box was very exciting and so much fun. It was just like Christmas.