Japanese Doll Festival Activities

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

The Japanese Doll Festival, also known as Hinamatsuri, is an important holiday celebrated on March 3 of each year. Use these activities in your middle or high school classroom to expand student's knowledge of the holiday.


Since ancient times, the Japanese culture has celebrated Hinamatsuri (also known as the Japanese Doll Festival or Girl's Day) on March 3 of each year. The tradition originated during the Heian period of Japan as a way to honor the leaders of the country. These activities were designed with middle and high school students in mind, as they require a general understanding of Japanese history and culture. Additionally, the activities were created to be used after you have already taught students the basics of the holiday. These activities will both broaden and deepen student's understanding of Hinamatsuri.

History of Hinamatsuri

For this activity, students will break into groups to research different aspects of the history of the Japanese Doll Festival. Each group will be assigned one of the topics listed below. If you have a very large class, you may want to assign several of the topics to two groups in order to keep group size down.

  • History of the Heian Period and relation to Japanese Doll Festival
  • History of Japanese seasonal festivals (five total)
  • Modern celebration of Japanese seasonal festivals (five total)
  • Connection to purification ritual and Izanagi
  • What is included in the five-tier setup and why are these things included

To research the topics, students may use the internet. If you want to make this activity more succinct, you can find articles that describe the important facts for each of the topics and distribute these to the groups. After conducting their research, students will create a short presentation (with or without a slide show) to teach the class about their topic. Ensure that each student has a speaking role.

Materials Needed: Internet or copies of articles about various topics

Modern Hinamatsuri Celebrations

In modern times, Hinamatsuri is often celebrated as Girl's Day, or a day to honor the young girls in Japanese society. For this activity, students will research how Girl's Day is celebrated in Japan (and a few other parts of the world, too) and create a flyer that details the five Ws and H (who, what, when, where, why and how) of the celebration. Their flyer should include a few images (hand-drawn) and bring awareness to the holiday. Depending on your time parameters and student readiness, they can either work individually or in pairs.

  • Materials Needed: Technology for research, coloring materials, copy paper

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