Today is March 3rd, which is Girl’s Day in Japan, also known as Hina Matsuri. Unfortunately, unlike Boy’s Day (Kodomo no Hi), I don’t get a day off work.
In fact, my first clue that it was today was lunch when we were given the traditional ‘chirashi-zushi’. The ‘sushi’ (zushi) part means Japanese rice mixed with vinegar, not that there’s necessarily any raw fish involved. ‘Chirashi’ means ‘scattered’ and result is a lot of different ingredients mixed into that rice. Today, there were shiitake mushrooms, renkon (lotus root), nori seaweed, bamboo, kanpyou (dried gourd shavings), chicken and slivers of omlet. If there’s any Japanese food you don’t like, you’re going to be hard at work with your chopsticks picking it out. Not that you should, of course.
This website has a pretty good detailed recipe for chirashizushi. It’s not something to be attempted by those new to Japanese cooking without clear instructions.
There was pink, white and green mochi for dessert, another classic Hina Matsuri food. Oh, and the dolls get to eat them too. You can see this (and other offerings to the dolls) in the photographs.
I got permission to photograph the Hina doll stand that is a centerpiece in many homes around this time. These are stages that feature a Heian-era court, complete with Emperor and Empress dolls and are usually pretty expensive. I don’t know how many schools have them and I don’t remember seeing them in any of the previous schools I’ve worked in, but it’s difficult to prove a negative. This school has a pretty big one.
I doubt it will still be there tomorrow, since you have to take down the dolls soon after Hina Matsuri, else your daughter will never be married! Shocking.