Hina Matsuri, Japanese Doll Festival, Yame, Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan
Hina Matsuri is a Japanese doll festival, also known as Momo-no-Sekku the "Peach Festival." It is held every year on March 3rd and is a time during which people pray for the well being of young girls. The festival has its origins in a Chinese exorcism ritual in which people transferred evil spirits to doll surrogates (katashiro) by rubbing paper dolls on their bodies. They then threw the paper dolls into a river.
In the late 1700's people started to make dolls out of clay. Many young girls began to collect them and mothers saved the collections to be displayed on the day of ritual that has come to be known as the Hina Matsuri. Over time the designs of the dolls have evolved. The dolls of today are exquisite and costly works of art, usually dressed with real kimonos. Girls receive a set from their parents or grandparents at birth or on their first birthday, and these become a part of the bridal trousseau. The set is usually comprised of an emperor, his wife and their attendants.