This miniature Japanese Hinamatsuri (Girls' Day or Doll Festival) set is made of wood carved in a traditional style from Nara, Japan. The set has a wooden base with a four-tier staircase (t) and a wooden background featuring a painted pine tree design (u). Fifteen wooden figures, each with painted accents, are attached to the base with sticky tack. There are four additional pieces featuring lanterns, a sakura (cherry) tree and an orange blossom tree.
On the top tier are the empress (a) and emperor (b) dolls sitting in between the two red and pink lanterns (r and s). The emperor has a brown kimono with a blue inner layer; the empress has a gold kimono with a red inner layer. Both sit on green and yellow tatami mat thrones. The second tier features the sannin kanjo, the three ladies in waiting (m, n, o), dressed in brown kimono with a red inner layer. On the third tier are the gonin bayashi, the five musicians (c, d, f, h, i); on the far left is the utaika (singer), followed by the taiko (drum) player, the otsuzumi (Iarge drum) drummer, the kotsuzumi (hand drum) player, and the yokobue (flute) player. The fourth tier holds the daijin (e, g), the Minister of the Left and the Minister of the Right. Finally, on the bottom tier are three guards/manservants (j, k, l) in between the orange blossom tree on the left (q) and the sakura tree on the right (p).
Hinamatsuri, the Doll Festival or Girls' Day, is held annually on March 3 to celebrate the happiness and health of young girls. The holiday originated during the Edo period (1600-1868) to ward off evil spirits, and at some Hinamatsuri festivals today, people release paper dolls into the rivers to carry away sickness and bad fortune. Setting up a display of special festival dolls in the house is fundamental to the festival; the display is usually put up in mid-February but put away as soon as the festival ends because of old superstitions. Hinamatsuri dolls wear Heian period (794-1192) clothing, and are placed in specific locations on a one-, five-, or seven-tiered platform covered with red felt (depending on the number of dolls owned).