Hina Matsuri: Japanese Doll Festival Display

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Location: 1609 19th Ave N, Fargo, North Dakota 58102

The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society welcomes the public to stop by the Fargo Air Museum between February 6th and February 27th to view a Hina Doll-Hina Matsuri Display. 

Doll exchanges between Japan and America began in 1927 when each state in America received at least one doll as a sign of friendship between the two countries. 

In 2013, JACES (Japan-America Cultural Exchange Society) of Okayama renewed friendship with North Dakota by Gifting a complete set of 15 Hina Dolls to the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society in recognition of a plan to create a Japanese Garden on 28th Avenue N. and University, Fargo. Each year during the month of March the Dolls are displayed in a different area venue. 

This annual festival, held on March 3rd, was established in its current form in 1687 and is still widely celebrated in Japan today. The set of dolls (hina) associated with this festival is displayed in public settings and private homes. For many mothers and daughters, the hina dolls illustrate a wish for marriage and comes with a warning not to leave the set up too long lest marriage be delayed.

Dolls have held a place of importance in Japanese culture for centuries. Some were thought to have religious meaning or mystical powers. Others were revered for their beauty. The hina dolls were known for their ability to take away the sins of those who treat the dolls properly. 

A traditional hina doll set consists of fifteen figures arranged on a seven-tier stand (hina-dan) covered with a red cloth. The top tier displays the Imperial couple (dairi-bina), the Emperor and Empress. The second tier holds three court ladies (kanjo), who serve them sake-a rice wine. Arrayed on the third tier are five musicians (gonin-bayashi) playing drums and flute. Two guardians (zuishin) known as the Minister of the Right (a young man), and the Minister of the Left (an old man) are arranged on the fourth tier. Below the ministers are three footmen or samurai (shicho) described as the maudlin drinker, the cantankerous drinker and the merry drinker. The remaining tiers of the stand display miniature objects such as sweet rice cakes, lamps, lacquered furniture, palanquins and ox carts to serve the Imperial couple's every need inside and outside the palace. 

During Hina Matsuri, young girls dress in kimono, play hostess to their visitors and receive gifts from family and friends. Throughout the years this festival has remained dear to the Japanese, a chance to express love and good wishes for their daughters. 

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