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2011年3月 3日 (木)

Joushi, Hina-matsuri & Chirashi-zushi, Clear soup with hamaguri/上巳とちらし寿司、蛤のお吸い物

Joushi is one of the five sechinichi.  (There’re five sechinichi in a year; Jinjitu on 7th January, Joushi on 3rd March, Tango on 5th May, Shichiseki on 7th July and Chouyou on 9th September.)  It’s considered in ancient China that negative vibes that cause people harm penetrate on sechinichi, and people used to enter river to wash away physical and mental impurities.  The sechinichi was brought in Japan and combined with a Japanese custom that had been already existed; Japanese people used dolls as effigies to rid them of misfortune and disease.

The origin of hina-matsuri/doll festival dates back to the Heian Period (AD794-1192) .  People used to float dolls down the river as they believed the dolls would carry their impurities away.  This custom started in the Imperial court and spread to commoners around the Edo Period (AD1603-1867).  Dolls of emperor and empress, and attendants along with furniture and household goods represent the Imperial court.  Traditionally emperor doll used to be on the left (right from observers), because the left side was superior.  Since the cultural enlightenment after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, emperor doll sits on the right (left from observers), but some regions and families still decorate dolls in a traditional way.

Chirashi-zushi and clear soup with hamaguri/common oriental clam are the festive dishes for the day.  Auspicious ingredients such as shrimp (longevity), renkon/lotus roots (prospect), beans (live healthy and work mameni/diligently, mame means beans) are used for the sushi, besides something green, yellow and red that would make it colorful and represent spring. Hamaguri/common oriental clam is bivalve, that is, shells are paired, and it represents faith and good match.





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