Hina Doll Complete Set (Japanese Dolls)

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index
Jump to navigationJump to search
Past Exhibit

Hina Doll Complete Set (Japanese Dolls)

BTMM map 019.gif
Arch Two , Area 19

The complete Hina Doll set appears scattered around the cabinet, most of the figures can be seen wearing orange and cream obis, and are the smallest dolls, all of the same standardised size. These have all been approximately dated to the early 20th century.


The Emperor Odairi-sama, and Empress Ohime-sama are both crafted from gofun (a fine solution of crushed oyster shells and glue). They both sit in the lotus position at the front of the cabinet in the centre. Traditionally this sitting down pose was indicative of wealth, happiness and relaxation, a common feature in many East Asian religions such as Japanese Shinto, Hinduism and Buddhism. The Emperor wears black with a vase sat at his feet, the empress wears orange and white silk, wears a royal crown on her head, and she holds a fan.

The Emperor and Empress are both accompanied by three court ladies, the sannin-kanjo which are slightly smaller, made from the same materials and wear similar dress of cream and orange kimonos. The court ladies would traditionally hold equipment used to serve the traditional rice-liqueur, saki.

There are also an accompanying five traditional court musicians, the gonin-bayashi, all of which are dressed in orange and cream kimonos. Some can be seen holding drums and flutes, those without instruments are singers. (currently all are situated on tiers either side of cabinet)

The ministers, or daijin, would also accompany this set. In every Hina Doll set, there is a minister on the left (Sadaijin), who was typically older and can be seen dressed in black, and a minister on the right (Udaijin), who was often the younger and can be seen dressed in bright red. Both ministers were traditional members of the imperial household who would counsel the Emperor in his political affairs. (both are situated on the left side of the cabinet)

The Shichto were male servants who often acted as entertainers and even actors, much like European court Jesters, these can be seen at the front of the cabinet either side of the emperor and empress. The wear cream and turquoise clothing, one hold a bamboo broom. They both appear to have very sad or very angry facial expressions. It is extremely rare in the modern day to find a Hina Doll set with so many tiers down to the servants.


The Hina Dolls were used during the Girl's Day festival, Hinamatsuri, celebrated on March 3rd. During this festival, every girl would arrange her Hina Dolls on a tiered display to recreate the imperial household, with the Emperor and Empress on the first tier, the court ladies on the second, the musicians on the third, and the ministers and court guards on the fourth and fifth, with objects of devotion and food offerings on the final tiers.

Any visitors to the home of each girl would receive traditional sweets, served by the young girl herself.