Doll Trouble – introduction

Our next tale will be Doll Trouble and will start posting on Thursday.

The Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) is celebrated on March 3rd in Japan and is also known as Girl’s Day. Contemporary celebrations center on a special feast for daughters and the setting up of a doll shrine. It can be quite elaborate and is most commonly a display of dolls dressed from the Hiean period imperial court. Dolls are set out in the weeks before March 3rd, but must come down by the end of the day on March 3rd or else it is believed that the daughter will have bad luck in marriage.

March 3rd is also a day of purification in the Shinto religion. In ancient times, the dolls for this day were made from fiber or paper (origami). People would breathe on them and rub them on their bodies to rid themselves of impurities, and then float the dolls down the river in small boats. These impurities may also take the form of demons or malevolent spirits. Because the dolls and boats clog up fishermen’s nets, places still using the doll floats will have priests gather them later and take them to the shrine to be burned.

If spirits are captured within these dolls, what happens to them once they are captured and floated down the river? Is it wise to trick a trickster?