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Gorgeous & Delicious! Japanese Girls’ Festival

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

↑ From the front "Chirashi zushi", right "Diamond-shaped Hina-Matsuri Cake", back left "Cake-style pressed sushi", white sake, center Celebrate with "kawaii" sushi and sweets! For those looking for opportunities to learn about Japanese cuisine and culture in Japan, hello from Japan Culinary Institute in Japan, and welcome to JCI's blog! In Japan, the Hina-Matsuri (Girls' Festival) is held every year on March 3rd to pray for girls' healthy growth and happiness. Hina dolls and peach blossoms are displayed throughout the country, and people celebrate by eating Hina-arare and Chirashi zushi. We will introduce the origin of the Japanese spring event, Hina-Matsuri, and exquisite menus to eat at the celebration. It is perfect for home parties, and if you aspire to become a Japanese chef, why not give it a try? Table of Contents 1. The origin of Hina-Matsuri and Hina Dolls 2. Gorgeous! Celebratory dishes for Hina-Matsuri 3. Hina-Matsuri sweets with a wish for color 4. Summary

1. The origin of Hina-Matsuri and Hina Dolls

↑ In the Edo period, elegant Hina decorations were displayed indoors (Ishikawa Toyomasa, "Furyu Kodomo Asobi, March" 1767) Hina-Matsuri (Girls’ Festival) is held on March 3rd, also known as the "Peach Festival." The word "hina" means "child," and hina dolls (photo below) are decorated with the hope that girls will be healthy and happy. The original form of hina dolls was " Nagashi-hina," Paper and straw hina dolls were made and floated down a river to carry away illnesses, injuries, and other misfortunes. This event began over 1,000 years ago.

↑ Hina dolls with costumes and hairstyles from the Heian period Peach blossoms are also customarily displayed during the Girls' Festival. In addition to the fact that peaches are the flower of the season, it is believed that peach flowers have the power to ward off evil. The pretty pink peach blossoms go well with the image of girls and add a touch of glamour.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Girls’ Festival was established on March 3rd as a day to wish for the growth and happiness of girls. The simple Nagashi-hina dolls, originally made of paper and other materials, gradually became more luxurious, and people began to enjoy displaying them in their homes. The top tier of the gorgeous five-tiered set has a couple (the Emperor, Odairi-sama) and the Empress, Ohina-sama). The second tier has three women (San-nin-kanjo) who care for the couple. The third tier has five men (Go-nin-bayashi) who are musicians. The fourth tier has two important members of the Imperial Court (Left and Right Ministers). The fifth tier is the "Zoshiki," cleaning and transportation workers. In general, including Tokyo, the Odairi-sama is displayed on the left and the Ohina-sama on the right. Still, they are sometimes displayed on the opposite sides in Kyoto and other places.

↑ Gorgeous five-tiered decoration. Nowadays, it is rare to see it in ordinary households due to the housing situation.

2. Gorgeous! Celebratory dishes for Hina-Matsuri

↑ Chirashi zushi, with its gorgeous toppings, is a popular dish for the Hina-Matsuri Chirashi zushi and Hamaguri-no-suimono(Clear soup of clams) are typical celebratory dishes for the Hina-Matsuri for Japanese people, incorporating seasonal ingredients that convey the coming of spring. Chirashi zushi, which is gorgeous to look at, is decorated with lucky ingredients such as lotus root, which has holes to foresee the future, and prawns, which symbolize longevity to the point of bending at the waist. Because only a pair of shells can fit together perfectly, serving clam soup is common, symbolizing a good marriage. Not only do these ingredients have auspicious meanings, but they are also colorful and gorgeous to look at and have become a part of the Hina-Matsuri celebration.

↑ Clear soup of clam with rape blossoms, a symbol of spring Recently, pressed sushi, which looks like a cake, and cup sushi, divided into small portions and decorated, have become popular at Hina-Matsuri home parties. They are easy to make. Many people also enjoy Hina-Matsuri with additional touches, such as doll sushi that resemble hina dolls and so-called "Ohinasama kyaraben" (=character bento, or lunch boxes shaped like popular characters)! It makes us smile to see traditional food arranged in such a cute, contemporary way! This kind of thing reminds us of the Japanese people's little sense of fun, ability to put things, and craftiness. Doesn't it make you want to try making them too?

↑ Pressed sushi made in a round cake mold, cut into pieces, and eaten like a cake We will show you how to make Chirashi zushi by preparing sushi rice and toppings. It can be modified to deco-pressed sushi using a cake mold and more. For the toppings, try to be creative with the ingredients available where you live. <How to make Chirashi zushi> Ingredients (for 4 persons) ・Sushi rice Mix 3 cups of freshly cooked rice with vinegar (60 ml vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 60 g sugar). ・Garnish for Chirashi Carrot: 80 grams (cut into strips) 60 grams lotus root (cut into thin 1/4 round slices) 4 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thinlySugar, sake, soy sauce: 3 tablespoons each Water: 200ml <Direction> 1) Put 200 ml of water in a pot, add sugar, sake, soy sauce, and heat. 2) When it simmers, add the carrots, lotus root, and shiitake mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. When the ingredients are cooked and the water content is reduced, turn off the heat and cool. Toppings: Be creative with the red, yellow, and green ingredients you have available! (Red) Shrimp: 4 shrimp (shelled and boiled in salted water), salmon roe, salmon sashimi, etc. (Yellow) Thinly fried and shredded egg omelet, etc. (Green) Quick-boiled pea pods, sliced cucumbers, edamame, etc. <Direction> Mix sushi rice with pre-cooked Chirashi garnish, place on a platter and decorate with your favorite toppings. *You can also add edible flowers, teriyaki chicken, roasted vegetables, furikake(rice seasonings), finely chopped pickles, etc. to the rice to add color and flavor.

↑ Simply fill a clear cup with sushi rice mixed with ingredients and decorate it with toppings to make an easy-to-eat and fancy cup of sushi.

↑ Hina doll sushi with sushi rice shaped into a triangle wrapped in a thinly baked omelet to resemble a kimono. The face is made from a boiled quail egg, the hair is made from seaweed, and the accessories are made from carrots and cucumbers.

↑ "So pretty!" This Hina doll character bento is sure to make anyone happy!

3. Hina-Matsuri sweets with a wish for color

↑ The front is Kansai-style salty Hina-arare made from mochi, glutinous rice cakes, and the back is Kanto-style sweet Hina-arare made from rice or rice powder. Typical sweets eaten on Hina-Matsuri include "Hishi-mochi" (diamond-shaped rice cakes) made of green, white, and pink rice cakes. And "Hina-arare" (pink, green, yellow, and white rice crackers/puffs) represent spring, summer, fall, and winter, respectively. Green means the youthfulness of budding trees, white represents the purity of snow, and pink represents life force. By eating these sweets, you are taking in the power and wishes of each. Recently, many people have been buying and enjoying traditional sweets and cakes and other items with Hina doll motifs at Western confectionery stores. Thanks to this trend, Hina-Matsuri is still actively celebrated at home all over Japan.

↑ "Oiri," a Hina-Matsuri sweet from Tottori Prefecture, the original form of Hina-arare. (from our local cuisine: )

↑ Sweet Hishimochi made from rice flour. The recipe and ingredients differ depending on the region.

↑ Many confectionary stores have been selling cakes with the Hina-Matsuri theme in recent years.

↑ Why not make Hina doll cakes that you can make with store-bought rolls or cupcakes? It is also customary to offer "Shirozake" (white sake) during the Hina-Matsuri and to have it during the celebration. However, children and minors are not allowed to drink Shirozake, which contains alcohol. For this reason, amazake, a sweet drink made from rice and rice malt without alcohol, is drunk instead.

↑ Alcohol-free amazake for minors!

4. Summary

This time, we introduced gorgeous and kawaii dishes associated with the Hina-Matsuri. Do you have the custom to wish for girls happiness in your country? Do you want to try making colorful, decorative sushi? The small portions of decorative sushi are perfect for parties and other occasions!

Why don't you put your aesthetic sense to use in these festive dishes? You can learn how to make Chirashi zushi in JCI's Sushi Course, Home Cooking Course, and Chef Training Course.

You can also try making lovely character bento in the Home Cooking Course. If you want to learn Japanese cooking, contact us!

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