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 event, also known as Momo no Sekku (桃の節句: literally, Peach Festival), annually falls on March 3.
Hinamatsuri often translates into English as Japanese Girls’ Day or Japanese Doll’s Day, and as you may already know, in the festival, we celebrate the growth of young girls.
If you know a little about Hinamatsuri, it may remind you of these beautiful dolls called Hina Ningyo (雛人形), traditionally displayed in households with daughters for the event.
5 Lucky Foods for Hina Matsuri
In addition to Hina Ningyo, houses with young girls prepare several kinds of auspicious foods for the festival to bring good luck.
If I give examples, representatives 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 meaning, and if you understand why those treats fit in with Hinamatsuri, since then, you will be able to enjoy them more meaningfully. So today, let me talk about it.
Hina Arare (雛あられ)
First, Hina Arare is a type of Arare rice cracker consisting of 3 colors (white, green, and pink) or 4 (white, green, pink, and yellow). The snack is probably the most famous treat for Hina Matsuri.
Each color of Hina Arare has a meaning, which differs by how many colors it contains. If it is three,
- The white Arare stands for the energy of the earth.
- The green one stands for the energy of trees.
- The pink one stands for the energy of life.
With this Hina Arare, parents wish their daughters to get vigor from nature and live healthily. But if it is four,
- The white Arare represents the winter season.
- The pink one represents the spring season.
- The green one represents the summer season.
- The yellow one represents the autumn season.
As the four colors stand for the four seasons, with this Hina Arare, parents wish their daughters a happy life throughout the year.
Hishi Mochi (菱餅)
Next, Hishi Mochi is a rhombus-shaped Mochi typically consisting of 3 layers of rice cakes with pink, white, and green colors.
Based on the article 菱餅 on Japanese Wikipedia, as with Hina Arare, each color of Hishi Mochi has meaning as follows.
- To wish for health, the pink Mochi contains gardenia extract with a detoxification effect, and the color stands for peach blossom.
- To get the effect of lowering blood pressure, the white Mochi uses water chestnut, and the color stands for purity or snow.
- To keep off evil spirits, the green Mochi uses Yomogi mugwort, and the color stands for young grass.
Chirashi Zushi (ちらし寿司)
Known as scattered sushi in English-speaking countries, Chirashi Zushi is one of the lucky foods for Hinamatsuri, consisting of vinegared rice mixed with various ingredients, such as prawns, beans, and lotus roots.
Those ingredients also have meanings, which are as follows.
- The prawn stands for longevity.
- The bean means having a healthy life and working like a beaver.
- The lotus root is a good prospect for the future.
Hamaguri no Suimono (はまぐりの吸い物)
Hamaguri no Suimono is a clear Japanese soup that comes with Hamaguri (蛤/はまぐり) clams.
As the shells of a clam fit perfectly together, the Hamaguri clam in the dish represents a happy husband and wife.
With Hamaguri no Suimono in the festival, parents wish their daughters to live in harmony with their husbands in the future.
Shiro Zake (白酒)
For Hinamatsuri, Toukashu (桃花酒: sake infused with peach petals) was once prepared, for we Japanese have long believed peach can ward off evil spirits.
But since the Edo period (1603-1868), Shiro Zake (白酒: literally, white sake) has become a standard item.
Since Shiro Zake is an alcoholic beverage made from steamed glutinous rice, Kome Koji (malted rice), and mirin, parents usually serve Amazake to kids.