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A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Hinamatsuri at the Keio Plaza Hotel in 2019

In Japan, March 3 means, Hinamatsuri, also known as Girl’s Day and Doll’s Day.  And at the Keio Plaza they put up a great display of dolls for its visitors.  They’ve been doing it for quite a few years now, and recently I attended it for my third time.  If you like dolls, especially of the Japanese kind, this is one event you wouldn’t want to miss!

The dolls are said to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck, and there were 6800 of them.  6800 is an amazing number, and of course all of them were very beautiful. The Emperor and Empress, together with their court ladies, advisers and musicians are all in traditional court dress of the Heian period and arranged on a tiered display.  The Emperor and Empress occupy the top positions of course. And as with previous years surrounding the court are many thousands of dolls hanging down off cords tied to a big framework that surrounded the central display.

Every one of the dolls had been made by renowned quilt artist Mitsuyo Matsuo and the ninety members of her Himawari group.  Everything was made exclusively for this exhibit. I think it must have take an enormous amount of work.

The amazing thing about the dolls is that every single one of them has a special meaning.  Turtles and cranes are symbols longevity. Butterflies express the girl’s wish to become beautiful.  Peaches are all about fertility (good for making a family, right?). Goldfish ward off evil. And this is only some of the dolls.  There are so many more, each has a special meaning.

If you are interested in Girl’s Day dolls, dolls in general, Japanese culture and in Tokyo I highly recommend this display at the Keio Plaza Hotel.  It runs until March 28, so there is still a lot of time left to see it. If you miss it in 2019, there will always be 2020 for sure! And if you want to learn more about the Hinamatsuri, you can read this article on Wikipedia.  The Keio Plaza Hotel’s website is here.