Celebrating Girls' Day in Hawaii

In Japan, Girls’ Day is a thing of the past, giving way to Children’s Day on May 5 (formerly Boy’s Day). But here in Hawaii, we still like to give the girls a day all their own.

Hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Day, takes place every March 3 and is mostly celebrated by Hawaii families of Japanese and Okinawan descent. Early Japanese immigrants first brought the holiday to the Islands.

Following Girls’ Day tradition, elaborate dolls were given to Japanese girls upon birth, detailed with brocaded silk kimonos, fans and musical instruments. Young girls would display their dolls in arrangements up to seven tiers high. Tradition states that the display must be taken down by March 3 or the girls would not find husbands.

In Hawaii, you will find trays of hishi mochi sitting in the storefronts of Asian groceries. The diamond shaped colored rice cakes are the traditional food of Girls’ Day. Red or pink represents peach blossoms and other flowers, white signifies snow or purity and green symbolizes growth or fertility.

If this was 19th century Japan, girls could expect gifts of peach blossoms and paper dolls—symbols of a peaceful and prosperous marriage. Current generations of girls have come to expect something more sensible: perhaps a high-tech trinket or some money.

Modern adult women are accustomed to find a box of mochi cookies by the office water cooler. It’s not uncommon for male co-workers to treat the ladies to lunch—becoming an unofficial Girls’ Day tradition in workplaces around Hawaii.

This office included.