Hinamatsuri: 5 Lucky Foods for Japanese Girls Day
A traditional festival for girls called “Hina Matsuri (ひな祭り)” is just around the corner here in Japan. The Japanese girls day annually falls on March 3 and is also known as “Momo no Sekku (桃の節句)”, literally “Peach Festival”.
In English-speaking countries, Hinamatsuri seems to be often referred to as “Japanese Girls’ Day” or “Japanese Doll’s Day”, and as you might already know, the traditional Japanese festival celebrates the sound growth of young girls.
If you know a little about Hinamatsuri, the Japanese festival may remind you of the beautiful Japanese dolls dressed in kimono wear “Hina Ningyo (雛人形)”, which is traditionally displayed in households with daughters for the event.
5 Lucky Foods for Hina Matsuri
In addition to Hina Ningyo, several kinds of auspicious foods are prepared for the festival Hina Matsuri to bring young girls good luck, and the representative examples are what I introduce here, “Hina Arare (雛あられ)“, “Hishi Mochi (菱餅)”, “Chirashi Zushi (ちらし寿司)”, “Hamaguri no Suimono (はまぐりの吸い物)”, and “Shiro Zake (白酒)”.
Each food has meanings to it and if you know the reason why these foods are prepared for Hinamatsuri, from now on you will be able to enjoy them more meaningfully. So today let me explain that.
Hina Arare (雛あられ)
First off, made up of 3 different colors (white, green, and pink) or 4 (white, green, pink, and yellow) of small round-shaped Arare rice crackers, Hina Arare is probably the most famous treat for Hina Matsuri.
Meanings of the Colors
Actually, each color of Hina Arare has a meaning to it and that differs by how many colors it is made up of.
If Hina Arare is made up of 3 different colors
- The white Arare rice cracker stands for “the energy of the earth”
- The green Arare rice cracker stands for “the energy of trees”
- The pink Arare rice cracker stands for “the energy of life”
With this type of Hina Arare prepared during Hinamatsuri, it is believed that girls can get energy from nature and live healthy throughout the year.
If Hina Arare is made up of 4 different colors
- The white Arare stands for the winter season
- The pink Arare stands for the spring season
- The green Arare stands for the summer season
- The yellow Arare stands for the autumn season
As shown above, these 4 colors stand for the 4 seasons. With this type prepared, parents wish their daughters a happy life throughout the year.
Hishi Mochi (菱餅)
Hishi Mochi is a rhombus-shaped Mochi consisting of 3 layers of rice cakes with pink, white, and green colors.
Meanings of the Colors
As with Hina Arare, each color of Hishi Mochi has meanings to it.
- The pink rice cake stands for “amulet” or “peach”
- The white rice cake stands for “purity” or “snow”
- The green rice cake stands for “good health”, “longevity”, or “the earth”
The 3 different colors of rice cakes for Hishi Mochi are actually made with special ingredients.
- The pink rice cake is colored using gardenia extract, which is said to have a detoxification effect
- The white rice cake is made with water chestnut, which helps lower the blood pressure
- The green rice cake is made with mugwort called Yomogi, which is effective in increasing blood circulation
In a nutshell, by displaying Hishi Mochi in the house during Hinamatsuri, parents wish their daughters a healthy life throughout the year, keeping off evil spirits.
Chirashi Zushi (ちらし寿司)
The Japanese scattered sushi, Chirashi Zushi is one of the lucky foods prepared for Hinamatsuri.
With thin strips of egg omelet and shredded nori sprinkled, the sushi is made of vinegared rice that has been mixed with a variety of ingredients, such as prawns, beans, and lotus roots, each of which actually has an auspicious meaning to it.
- The prawn stands for “longevity”
- The bean means “having a healthy life and working like a beaver”
- The lotus root stands for “good prospects of the future”
In brief, it is believed in Japan that eating Chirashi Sushi with these 3 ingredients during the Hinamatsuri festival brings girls good luck.
Hamaguri no Suimono (はまぐりの吸い物)
Hamaguri no Suimoro is a ”Suimono (吸い物)” clear soup with the clam “Hamaguri (蛤, はまぐり)” in it whose soup stock is seasoned with salt and soy sauce.
The 2 shells of a clam fit each other perfectly. From this, it is said that the Hamaguri clam represents “a happy husband and wife”.
In short, with the Hamaguri clam soup in the festival, parents hope in the future their daughters can live in harmony with their husbands.
Shiro Zake (白酒)
For Hinamatsuri, Japanese people originally prepared a sake that was infused with peach petals called “Toukashu (桃花酒)”, for it has been believed in Japan that peach can ward off evil spirits and give people power.
But since the Edo period (1603 – 1868), Shiro Zake, literally white sake, has become a standard alcoholic beverage for Hinamatsuri.
Shiro Zake is made from a mixture of steamed rice, malted rice, and mirin that has been aged for about a month. Since Shirozake is an alcoholic drink, Amazake is usually prepared for kids during Hinamatsuri.
(Reference Page: yazuken.com)