March 3rd is a special occasion across Japan as it marks ‘Momo no Sekku’ – also known as girls day. The doll festival is a part of that and dolls are set up on Feb. 4, a date known as risshun (“onset of spring”) and taken down before the celebrations of Girls day itself begins.

The custom is said to have begun in the Heian period (794-1185) when evil spirits would be have to be driven away and placed in dolls. The custom varies across Japan but families still display dolls today and it’s done to pray for the health of young girls. In the past people celebrated by eating three mochi rice cakes in different colours: green, pink and white. A tasty custom I’m sure people were happy to take part in!


In Yanagawa, the first Hina Festival for a baby girl is marked with sagemon—colourful hanging decorations that each family has passed down over generations. These items are meticulously looked after and handed down so that many generations can appreciate and enjoy the special festival.

In Yanagawa, each sagemon consists of 49 (7×7) decorations (remember seven is a lucky number) and they are usually in the shape of creatures such as rabbits and cranes. Families usually decorate the bedrooms of their young daughters with such decorations and nowadays, when winter comes to an end, everyone hangs the colourful sagemon in their homes and shops; making the whole city come alive in colour and life. Viewing spots can be found with pink flags outside, so keep your eyes peeled.


Yanagawa is unique as they hold many celebrations to mark Girls day. One of them takes place on March 5th where almost all the girls and women in the city wear a kimono! Visitors who come to the city also wearing kimono can enjoy several gifts such as mocha pounding and red bean soup. So no reason not to get involved?!

The jewel in the crown of the girls day celebrations is the Ohina-sama Water Parade. It’s undoubtedly one of the highlights in Yanagawa’s calendar and a must-see event for anyone visiting the area during the time. In 2018 the event will take place March 18th, unless the weather is rainy in which case it will be re-scheduled.


What you’ll witness is around 200 young girls and their mothers dressed in colourful kimono riding in twelve boats beautifully decorated with hina dolls. The boats drift down the beautiful canals of the city with hanging sagemon all around. The boats drift slowly enough for gathered crowds to wave and take photos of the event from the banks. It’s a fun and exciting event for both the young girls participating and also the crowds who watch.

You can get in on the action yourself by taking a 50-minute hina-viewing boat tour from Tsujimon (Denshukan High School north side) to Okinohata. This unique opportunity will give you the chance to witness the festival from the canals so you can get close up views and another chance to snap some memorable photos! The floating lanterns at your final destination make the trip truly unforgettable. It’s around 1,000yen for adults and there are four daily trips over the weekend at 10:30, 12:00, 13:30 and 15:00.


Don’t rush off home without viewing the giant sagemon in the large shopping arcade. Before heading home, be sure to check out the giant sagemon in the Yanagawa Shopping Arcade.

How to get there:

To reach the event you can take the Nishitetsu Omuta Line from Tenjin and the journey will take only 48 minutes to reach Nishitetsu Yanagawa station.

Would you like to enjoy japanese water festivals?

Being a country surrounded by the ocean and having many water resources, Japan has a deep relationship with water. That is why there are many festivals based on “water” theme. And those festivals are held not only in summer.If you like water and want to become a part of energetic festivity, the following article will introduce you to 10 best water festivals in Japan!
Check it here! URL:


Nobu Tanaka

I am a photographer based in London, originally from Japan. I’m also a part of a company which makes a B2B platform to simplify the content marketing process.

Written on

Other Events You May Like