March 3 marks the “Hina Matsuri” or “Doll Festival.” It was formally called “Momo no Sekku” or “Peach Festival for Girls.”
The following two pictures show a typical doll display set up in houses with daughters. The dolls are customarily handed down from mother to daughter and often go back generations. Usually the set includes dolls representing the emperor and empress, three court ladies, five musicians, two ministers and three servants situated on five to seven stepped-shelves covered with a red cloth.
After the display is set up, daughters dress in a traditional-styled Japanese kimono. Afterward, family members gather in the room and enjoy drinking shirozake, a sweet, non-alcoholic sake made from rice malt, and eating sweetened puffed-rice crackers while listening to or singing a song written specifically for the festival.
This custom became popular after the Meiji Era near the end of the nineteenth century, however it is believed to have its origins in Heian court practice, about one thousand years ago.