Meaning “Girls’ Day”, Hina Matsuri is a time when parents and families recognize the young girls in the family for being, well, girls. A special set of dolls is placed out in the living room showing the traditional Japanese family hierarchy (you can see an example of this here). Most houses just have the parents, as you can see here.
I had a very unique opportunity to spend the afternoon with one of my students, Takeshi, and his family while they celebrated Hina Matsuri. He has two 4-year-old identical twin girls, so the celebration was a good one. They also study English, so I got to play with them a little bit and help them practice their numbers.
We went back to their apartment and I was delighted to find lots of food there! The specialty for Hina Matsuri is called “Chirashizushi”, which I have no idea if I’m spelling right. It’s raw fish and vegetables on rice that is shaped like a cake. It’s served with a simple clam soup.
After awhile we had these excellent “mocchi” desserts. Mocchi is like stretchy rubbery rice dough that is a little sweet. It’s usually filled with a sweet red bean paste. They’re actually pretty good, although I know a few people can’t handle the texture.
It was so fun seeing a traditional Japanese dinner. Takeshi also informed me later by email that he improved his score by more than 15% on his standardized English test!