Japanese ward off evil spirits with cute dolls on Hina Matsuri

1,000 neatly arranged and opulently clothed dolls would be an odd sight in most places and at most times, but it's not in Japan, where Thursday the country celebrates Hina Matsuri - Doll's Day, or Girl's Day.

The annual festival, which began centuries ago, is a time for families to "pray for the health and happiness for the young ladies of their houses," Japan's Metropolis Magazine reports today.

On Mar. 3 many families across Japan place the dolls, which are adorned with the traditional clothing of the imperial family, on top of a wooden platform, which is itself draped in a red carpet.

Shinto shrines in Japanese cities also set up the doll platforms, which in the case of a shrine in Katsuura City today, can contain 1,000 dolls and be many tiers high, according to local witness reports.

The tradition of tiered platforms for the dolls goes back to "the ancient custom of hina-nagashi (doll floating), a purification practice in which misfortunes are transferred to a doll and set afloat down a river, supposedly taking troubles and bad spirits with them," Metropolis reports.


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