In Japanese tradition, the “Hina matsuri” (or Doll Festival/Girls’ Day) is celebrated every March 3rd to wish good health and a happy life to the house’ little girl(s). People put out their heirloom display of dolls attired in costumes typical during the Heian Period (AD 794-1185). Compact sets have recently become popular. Traditionally however, these dolls are displayed in tiers, according to social levels during the Heian Court Period; the top tier occupied of course by the Emperor and Empress. Each family will typically have one set.
The dolls are so pretty to behold and contain so much detail that they really should be on display year round. It is tradition however to put the dolls in storage right after the festival. Old superstition has it that families who are slow in putting back their “hina ningyo” (girl dolls) after the festival would have difficulties marrying off their daughters.
For those of you who would like to see such dolls, Katsuura city in Chiba has been running a public “Big Hina Matsuri” display outdoors on March 3rd each year since January 2001. The display is truly overwhelming, and an amazing sight to behold.