Home » Japanese culture » What is the meaning of eating clams on Girls’ Day, Hinamatusri?

What is the meaning of eating clams on Girls’ Day, Hinamatusri?


In Japan, there is the Doll’s Festival. Hinamatsuri is filled with peach blossoms, hina dolls, and hina arare (sweetened rice-flour dumplings for the Girls’ Festival), all of which create a very festive atmosphere. And when it comes to Hinamatsuri, we realize that spring is finally approaching.

I remember looking at the hina decorations during Hinamatsuri when I was a little girl. I never got tired of looking at the many dolls lined up on the hina-dolls for a long time.

On the other hand, I remember that the armored warrior costumes of the May dolls were very scary. Therefore, I felt more at ease enjoying the Hinamatsuri in March.

In this page, let’s take a look at various things related to the Hinamatsuri.

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What is the origin of Hinamatsuri?

Momo-no-Sekku or Girls’ Festival is one of the Five Seasonal Festivals, and Seasonal Festivals are days that mark a turning point in the seasons.

Gisekku 五節句         

  • January 7 人日(じんじつ)   1月7日 - 七草の節句
  • March 3 上巳(じょうし)   3月3日 - 桃の節句、ひな祭り
  • May 5 端午(たんご)    5月5日 - 菖蒲の節句、あやめの節句
  • July 7 七夕(しちせき)   7月7日 - たなばた、笹の節句
  • September 9 重陽(ちょうよう)  9月9日 - 菊の節句

These were official events and holidays established by the shogunate during the Edo period. In addition, during the Edo period, there was a custom of displaying hina dolls again on September 9, the Chrysanthemum Festival, called “Go no Sekku”.

The origin of Hinamatsuri is thought to be the “Hina-asobi” of the Heian period (794-1185). This was a “game” played by the children of nobles and had no celebratory or ceremonial meaning.

It is said that this “play” changed to “festival” after the Azuchi-Momoyama period. During this period, it was also one of the wedding celebrations for children of samurai families.

In the Edo period (1603-1867), girls’ doll games and Sekku ceremonies were combined and hina dolls were displayed.

hinamatsuri Hamguri

What is the meaning of eating hamaguri?

Hamaguri does not fit well with any other combination of shells other than the original one. Therefore, people eat hamaguri on Hinamatsuri with the wish that they will meet a good marriage partner.

The origin of this game also dates back to the Heian period (794-1185) and is called “shell-matching. In this game, a pair of clam shells are decorated by pasting pictures drawn on paper on the inside of the shells. The game is similar to the modern game of nervous breakdown using playing cards.

The shells used in this game were later used as wedding gifts for the children of court nobles and feudal lords.

Hinamatsuri Songs

Ureshii Hinamatsuri (Happy Hinamatsuri)

Lyrics by Sato Hachiro, music by Kawamura Koyo

Check out the full lyrics.

Many people may have this song playing in their head just by hearing the word “Hinamatsuri. It is a very wonderful song. The sad tune of this song deepens the world of the lyrics.

Mr. Sato Hachiro’s older sister died at the young age of 18, just before getting married. This story makes the passage in the song even sadder.

”お嫁にいらした姉さまに よく似た官女の白い顔”



Hinamatsuri is an event held on March 3 to wish for the growth and happiness of girls. Families with girls usually display hina dolls and make offerings of peach blossoms, hina arare, rice cakes, and white sake.

The origin of Hinamatsuri dates back to ancient China, when people made dolls of their sins and misfortunes and floated them down a river to drive away evil spirits. This custom was introduced to Japan, and girls began to play with dolls, which became known as “Hinamatsuri” since the Edo period (1608-1867).

  • Hinamatsuri originated in the Heian period (794-1185).
  • It was not until the Edo period (1603-1867) that hina dolls began to be displayed at Hinamatsuri.
  • During the Heian period (794-1185), clams were used in a game called “shell-matching.

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