Today is Hina Matsuri,

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Today is Hina Matsuri, the Doll's Festival.

These beautiful dolls are the Imperial court of the Heian period (794-1192) and the day is celebrated to bless daughters. Displaying the dolls began in the Edo period (1603 - 1898) when courtly customs seeped out to the commoners.

The elaborate displays I photographed were in a bank in Marunouchi. The include the full arrangements or five tiers with the Emperor and Empress sitting before a gold screen at the top. Below them are three ladies-in-waiting, five court musicians, three ministers with food bearers, and on the bottom row a cherry tree and an orange tree flank the guards

The artistry in these dolls is impressive. They are dressed in silks, with coiffed hair and beautifully painted faces.

Home displays might only include a pair of dolls--the emperor and empress--and they may not be so traditional. I've seen Hello Kitty and her boyfriend, Daniel, dressed up in imperial kimono for Hina Matsuri.

Of course, you really have to take the whole thing with a grain of salt. A superstition says that if you don't put away your Hina dolls on 3/3, your daughters will be difficult to marry off!

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