Today’s Doodle celebrates Japan’s Girls’ Day, also known as Doll’s Day or Hinamatsuri, an annual celebration of girls in Japan. On the third day of the third month every year, this centuries-old tradition is a time to get dolled up and honor the happiness and health of girls in Japan.
As the peach trees begin to blossom, many families set out ornate dolls dedicated to their young daughters. These dolls are believed to ward off evil spirits while bringing good fortune and prosperity. Some parents and children dress these figurines in the customary kimonos of the Heian Period (794-1185) and display them on tiered platforms with ceremonial red carpet.
The roots of this tradition began with elaborate arrays that are meant to represent a wedding procession of the Heian imperial court. Traditionally, dolls representing an Emperor and Empress—similar to those depicted in the Doodle artwork—sit at the top of these displays and are representative of their roles in Japanese history and culture. Below the Emperor and Empress dolls, also known as the obina (male doll) and mebina (female doll), are other decorative dolls that represent members of the Heian-era court.
In current times, the styles of the dolls displayed have evolved outside of solely representing the Heian time-period. But what has not changed over the years is their meaning. Regardless of the dolls’ new styles, they remain a representation of parents’ wishing for their children’s health and good luck.
The coastal city of Katsuura hosts one of the most dazzling Hinamatsuri celebrations, where residents decorate the town with over 30,000 dolls, the country’s largest Dolls’ Day display.
Happy Girls’ Day, Japan!
Doodler Q&A with Sophie Diao
Today’s Doodle was created by Doodler Sophie Diao. Below, she shares some thoughts on the making of the Doodle:
Q: Is there anything about the history of Girls’ Day that resonated with you?
A: I loved learning about this holiday! It was fun to learn about how families make sure to have a set of dolls for their young daughters, and how some Hinamatsuri sets are passed down through generations.
Q: What was your creative approach for this Doodle? Why did you choose this approach?
A: Our team has made a beautiful array of illustrated Doodles for Girls’ Day in the past. One year, my colleague made a papercut Doodle that I loved, so when I started thinking about the Doodle for this year, I was inspired to continue using physical media and decided on little sculptures with polymer clay.
Behind-the-scenes photos of the Doodle’s creation process, with captions from Doodler Sophie Diao
After gathering lots of reference of existing Hinamatsuri dolls, I sketched up a plan for what the final Doodle would look like. This is the stage at which I planned out what materials I’d be using and how big everything would be.
I used aluminum foil as the basis for the dolls. The foil creates volume and structure, so I didn’t need to use as much clay, and the final dolls would be less heavy as a result.
I used various colors of Premo and Sculpey modeling clays, which are soft and pliable when working, but become hard and sturdy when baked. Having the print-out of my plan in front of me helped a lot when sculpting.
The dolls went into the oven to be baked for 1.5 hours!
Then the dolls were painted and decorated. I used nylon cord to create the additional props, like the emperor’s neckbow and the empress’ fan adornments.
With the dolls done, I moved on to creating the backdrop. I glued a gold foil paper onto a heavy cardstock for stability, folded it accordion-style, and used black masking tape for the edges. White acrylic paint was used for the logo and floral decorations.
To create the platform, I cut a piece of styrofoam to the right size, wrapped it in brown kraft paper, and used colored tape for the colored bands. I wasn’t able to find orange tape, so I used gold and adjusted it with orange acrylic paint.
We set up a DIY home studio to photograph the dolls. After picking our favorite shot, I color graded the image to create the final Doodle.
Photo credit: Jake Hubert