Hinamatsuri is a special holiday in Japan with unique foods and decorations. But what is Hinamatsuri, and how do people in Japan celebrate it?
Hinamatsuri Foods to Celebrate This Girl’s Festival in Style
On March 3rd, Japanese families with girls display Hina dolls (hina-ningyo or ひな人形). It is generally believed that the dolls remove bad luck, and, by doing so, they pray for the health and happiness of young girls. This event is called Hinamatsuri (ひな祭り).
As well as the Hina dolls, extravagant cuisine is believed to bring good luck as well. This article will introduce 5 of the Hinamatsuri foods!! Please try them, by all means!!!
Chirashizushi is a kind of Sushi bowl with various ingredients such as shrimp, salmon roe, Shiitake mushroom and egg. Actually, you can put anything you want in it. Still, for Hinamatsuri, you should include shrimp which symbolizes a long life, lotus root, which represents good foresight for your future, and beans as a protein, the means to work harder. You can easily get this Chirashizushi from the Supermarket but, it’s really fun to try cooking it yourself. I’ll leave you an easy recipe below!
<Easy Hinamatsuri Chirashizushi Recipe> for 2-3persons
Carrot(1/2)/Shiitake mushroom(2)/Ham(2)/Shrimp(4)/lotus root(1/3)/French beans(1)/egg(1)/Japanese rice(2cups=around 660g)/mixture of Japanese vinegar (3＋1/2tablespoon of Japanese vinegar, 2＋1/2tablespoon of sugar, 1/2tablespoon of salt)
(1) Boil the Japanese rice with seaweed in a rice cooker
(2) Cut the carrot and Shiitake mushrooms into small pieces and boil them until soft
(3) Cut lotus root into quarter slice and boil until it’s soft
(4) Place these three ingredients into your mixture of Japanese vinegar
(5) Mix these ingredients with your rice removed from the rice cooker, and cover with a wet dishcloth until it’s warm
(6) Boil shrimp in salted water and deshell, cut the ham
(7) Boil the French beans, cut diagonally
(8) Make a thin omelette and cut into strips (3-4cm)
(9) Place the rice on a plate and mix in the omelette
(10) Arrange all the prepared ingredients to make it look beautiful!
2. Hamaguri no Osuimonoはまぐりのお吸い物 (Clear Soup With Clams)
This soup is a typical Hinamatsuri food. Clamshells only match with their partner shell; they cannot be matched with any other shell due to differences in shape and size. So they are used as a symbol of a ‘married couple’. The clams in this soup symbolize the wish to stay with your true love for your entire life! The recipe is straightforward and can be cooked in 10mins!
<How to Make Hamaguri No Osuimono>2-3persons
Clams(200-250g)/ water(500ml)/ seaweed(1four quarter in 5cm=5g)/Japanese Sake(1table spoon)/ salt(a pinch)
(1) Wash clams well (remove the sand inside the shell by soaking in saltwater for 1-2 hours)
(2) Place clams, water and seaweed into the pot and cook over on a low flame
(3) Remove the seaweed after it’s boiled
(4) Stop the heat after most of the shells open
(5) Add the salt and Japanese sake, and you are ready to serve!
3. Hishimochi菱餅 (Rhombus-Shaped Rice Cake)
Hishimochi is a three-layer rice cake; one layer is pink, one white and one green. The green color symbolizes health, long life and earth, and the green rice cake is made from Japanese mugwort (Yomogiよもぎ), which encourages blood flow. The white symbolizes cleanliness and snow, made by the aquatic herb water caltrop, which helps reduce blood pressure. Lastly, the pink color means “protection”, and it is made from gardenias, a detoxifying plant. The meaning behind the combination of these three colours comes from various views, but it is normally said that ‘in early spring new green glass come into bud under the snow, and peach blossoms open on the snow.’ The rhombus shape symbolizes the heart, wishing a healthy life to daughters from mothers! You can find this rice cake at the Supermarket around the time of the Hinamatsuri, and I recommend you boil or grill them with seasoning such as soy sauce!
4. Hinaarareひなあられ (Bite-Sized Sweet Rice Crackers)
The rice crackers are were made to take outside when celebrating with family, as Hishimochi is sticky and difficult to carry with you. As well as the green, white and pink, there is sometimes an additional yellow rice cracker. The symbolism is a bit similar: green, meaning the energy of nature, white as earth’s power, and pink as life energy. If it is four coloured Hinaarare, it symbolizes the four seasons, which are Spring (green), Summer (pink), Autumn (yellow) and Winter (white); you will live happily through the year. It is easy to find these rice crackers in the Supermarket. However, it is not difficult to cook by yourself! The easiest way of cooking these rice crackers is to cut sliced rice-cake into small pieces and bake in the oven with 150℃ for 20mins! After that, you need to add sugar or colour powder!
5. Shirozake白酒 (White Sake)
This white sake is a sweet Japanese sake (Mirin みりん) or Shochu 焼酎 mixed with steamed rice or yeast, fermented for one month. It sounds easy, but it isn’t easy to make at home, so you can go and buy it! For a long time before white sake was introduced in Japan, ‘peach blossom sake (Tokashu 桃花酒) was used, and it is said Peach exorcises negative vibes and will bring vitality and physical strength! However, it has 10％ alcohol in it, so please don’t let your children drink it! But you can offer them ‘sweet sake (Amazake甘酒)’, which has an alcohol content of less than 1％!
To enjoy the day, you can have parties and try these five recommended foods to celebrate the growth of all girls and wish them to have a long life!
What Hinamatsuri Foods Will You Try?
From savoury dishes to sweet desserts and drinks, there are plenty of unique foods to try during Hinamatsuri. Which will you try?
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Feature photo credit: Canva