Let's light the lanterns on the tiered stand,
Let's arrange the peach blossom branches.
Five court musicians are playing flutes & drums.
Today is a joyful Dolls' Festival.
-- Traditional Song

Hinamatsuri is celebrated in Japan on March 3rd. For this festival, families bring out a special set of dolls dressed in traditional court costumes of the Heian period, and modern doll designs are popular, too.  

This tradition inspired me to design a set of Hinamatsuri dolls for my first book (Making Peg Dolls, Hawthorn Press 2012), but this morning, I felt like updating my design and making a new set (see photo at top of the post).

photo courtesy of folkeshi

And my recent entree into the world of Instagram has sparked a renewed interest for me in kokeshi. Via Instagram, I've become acquainted with Laetitia Hebert who runs the shop Folkeshi where she carries a beautiful collection of vintage and modern dolls -- I've become especially enamored with the modern designs of Hiraga Teruyuki and Tayama Izumi.

Below are two videos of kokeshi artists at work.  They're mesmerizing.

Happy Hinamatusuri!


  1. Love your books. Have produced many of the peg dolls. The other day I was reading about the Hindu festival of Holi. How might you make peg dolls to commemorate that?

    1. Dear Carolyn -- Thank you for saying hello! What a fun question about the holiday of Holi. I think I would make dolls with subtle markings to indicate that they were wearing saris (or other traditional clothing from India), and once the the dolls were created, I would splash them randomly with paint!

      Best wishes,

  2. Hi Margaret, thank you for the mention! Your first set of Hina should have taken so much time to make! A friend from Japan just wrote me about celebrating the first Hinamatsuri of her newborn girl. The lucky darling has a wonderful set of heavily detailed dolls in Heian kimono - that she isn't allowed to touch yet...

    1. The first set of hina for my book DID take a long time... mostly because I had difficulty choosing colors for their kimono (and coming up for the design for those paper lanterns). Luckily I have a Japanese friend who was very patient with me, explaining all details: the red platform, special mats, blossoms, lanterns, etc... Your friend’s baby IS lucky to have such a special set of dolls!


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