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Senmaya Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day Festival)

Updated: Apr 1


Girl's Day is celebrated on March 3rd of every year. Its most famous feature are the small male and female dolls arranged on a step alter which represent figures of the Heian period such as imperial dolls (the emperor, empress), court ladies, ministers, and musicians in traditional dress. These dolls are known as hina dolls. In Japanese households, families with daughters decorate the dolls from mid-February to March 3rd to pray for their daughter's health and prosperity. Celebrations also include a special Japanese cuisine such as chirashizushi (rice bowl with various toppings such as egg, lotus root, fish row), hina arare (small colorful rice cracker snack), hishi-mochi (diamond shaped rice cakes - usually three colors), amazake (non-alcoholic fermented rice drink).

During the Senmaya Hinamatsuri, Hina decorations are displayed in the Senmaya shopping street, centering on the Senmaya Sake-no-Kura Exchange Facility. Indulge in the festive atmosphere, enjoy lunch or dinner with a limited time Hinamatsuri menu, and feel the arrival of the upcoming spring.

On Saturdays and Sundays during the festival, there will be a market, performances by high school students, the 33-step Hina Festival at Matsuzawa Shrine, shuttle carriages, and more.

Details (2024)

Main event: Senmaya Brewery Exchange Facility 千厩酒のくら交流施設

Date: Feb 11 ~ Mar 3

Time: 10am ~ 4pm

Entry fee: 300yen

Senmaya Hinamatsuri My experience in 2018

This year (2018) marks Senmaya Hinamatsuri's 12th event.

The town itself is the event venue but the main event hall is at the Senmaya Brewery Exchange Facility (千厩酒のくら交流施設 ) where thousands of dolls and handmade crafts are carefully displayed. During the event which spans over a few weeks, the town has thought up exciting ways to celebrate by setting up tours, craft shops, tea ceremonies, traditional Japanese koto performances and having the restaurants around town participate by serving their own Girl's Day themed specials.

This year, I participated in the monitor tour aimed at foreign visitors. Although this year was a trial to gauge interest in and the flow of the tour, keep an eye out next year as there might be the same tour or a variation. On our tour, we had a mix of guys and girls, as well as people from four different countries (China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Australia). I missed out on the special Girl's Day lunch which was delicious apparently.

Here are some snaps and details of the tour:

1) Choosing a kimono, having a team dress you, getting hair done. 2) Professional photography - a photographer took pictures of us inside and outside of the facility and around town. He showed us how to model with props.

3) We took pictures outside of the Senmaya Brewery Exchange Facility.

4) The tour commenced. We were told that the building had withstood many adversities such as wars, fires and disasters due to being built of strong granite, famous to the area.

5) Walking around the main event. There are two floors filled with displays. The gorgeous tsurishi-bina (hanging crafts) were all hand-made.

6) A professional koto player harmonized with the background strumming traditional songs. We were allowed to give it a go too!

7) The main exhibit! The wall of dolls was too hard to get in one frame so I took a picture of the cute heart arrangement in the center (can you see it?)

8) The year of the boar display. Surrounding the boars are peonys which are famous to Hanaizumi in Ichinoseki. The yellow flowers are canola flowers which are Ichinoseki City's representative flower.

9) After looking around the brewery, our guide led us around Senmaya. Many shops had their own girls' day decorations up.

10) We were all admiring each other's kimonos and hairdos.

11) There were small boutiques along the street, some sold traditional clothes and some sold crafts.

After the tour, we were taken back to the Senmaya Brewery Exchange Facility to have some 'wagashi' (traditional Japanese confectionery) and matcha.

Walking around the traditional, old buildings of Senmaya in a kimono certainly made us feel special. The people of Senmaya were very welcoming. Even if you don't dress in kimono (most people don't but if you own one, it's a great opportunity to wear it), the displays, events and photo opportunities are well worth it.

This is what a few participants had to say about the event:

Hans (Taiwan): ’The dolls were made very intricately, it made me think of the fine workmanship of the Japanese.' 'When you wear a kimono, you feel like you've transformed, you instantly feel a change'.

Sen (Taiwan): 'I live in a larger city, coming to the countryside, you can see the sky, it's easy to walk around and it's relaxing. I usually eat at fast-food restaurants but today I ate at an old wooden restaurant with a traditional feel. This was the first time wearing a kimono, it was a nice experience - it made me feel like royalty'.


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