March 3 is Hina Matsuri, also known as “Doll’s Festival,” “Girls’ Festival,” or Momo-no-Sekku (Peach Festival). On this day the Japanese pray for the happiness and good health of girls.
The main feature of this celebration is a set of dolls, called hina ningyo, which represent the emperor, empress, and members of their court. Depending on the number of pieces, the dolls are arranged on five- or seven-tiered platforms, with the emperor and empress positioned at the top. The dolls are dressed in traditional court wear from the Heian Era (794 to roughly 1185), with the empress donning an impressive costume called juuni hitoe (twelve-layered ceremonial robe).
Families display the dolls at home in February and pack them away the evening of March 3. Superstition dictates that if the dolls are left out after March 4, the daughters will marry late in life.
In the New York area, Mitsuwa displayed a beautiful set of dolls.
In Tokyo, the Mitsui Memorial Museum is currently showing a complete set of dolls that have been passed down for generations among the women in the Mitsui family. Mitsui, the first private bank in Japan, is one of the world’s largest publicly traded companies.