Elaborately dressed dolls, said to represent the Emperor and Empress and passed down from generation to generation, set on intricately decorated shelves in the homes of Japanese girls to celebrate Girls Day (Hina Matsuri), March 3. The holiday is celebrated by families to wish each female child in the family a life of health and happiness.
Many Hina Matsuri displays feature not only Emperor and Empress dolls, but dolls representing the Imperial Court. A full display of these dolls have the Emperor and Empress displayed on the highest shelf, with 3 maids-in-waiting (Sannin Kanjo) on the second shelf, 5 court musicians (Gonin Bayashi) complete with musical instruments on the third shelf and can continue on for several more shelves. These dolls are individually made, some with childlike faces and features and some with a more sophisticated look (see Hina Matsuri displays).
Regardless, these dolls are typically very expensive and not for play. Rather, they are taken out of storage and displayed each year from mid February until March 4, the day after the Hina Matsuri festival. Legend has it that the display must be taken down, or there will be a delay -maybe forever- in the marriage of the girl or girls in the family!
Boys are not forgotten in Japan…Boys Day is May 5!