Laura and Elise received this beautiful pop-up card for Hina Matsuri from my Japanese friend S.! Along with the card and her wishes, she included a letter describing the day for us. Girl’s Day/Japanese Doll Festival as it is called in English is a day for young girls to celebrate their beauty and health! S. adds that today is also called Momo-no-Sekku or the Peach Blossom Festival. People decorate with peach blossoms to celebrate the first signs of spring. Peach blossoms also symbolize a happy marriage.
It’s traditional to display ornamental dolls representing the Japanese Emperor, Empress and their court. Doll sets range from folded origami versions to heirlooms handed down in families for generations. S. adds that if you don’t take the dolls down immediately after March 3rd, it brings bad luck–your daughter(s) will not get married!
Like so many other Japanese holidays, Girl’s Day has its own special foods associated with it. Chirashizushi or scattered sushi is often served as are sakuramochi (sweets made with azuki-bean paste androlled in a cherry leaf). Hamaguri Ushiojiru or clear clam soup is also traditionally served. The joined clams represent the strong bond between a husband and wife. Since clams are about the one thing I can easily find here, we will be having this soup today with the girls. Wishing you and all your daughters happiness today and every day!
- 12-16 small or 4 large hamaguri (hard-shell clams), soaked in salted water to expel sand
- 3 cups water
- 1 Tbsp sake
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- For garnish:
- 1 bunch of nanohana (rape flower), boiled and chopped, or mitsuba (wild parsley) leaves (optional)
- Put hamaguri clams and water in a medium pan.
- Place the pan on medium heat and simmer until clams open.
- Stop the heat and remove the clams from the pan and place into individual soup bowls. (3-4 small clams or 1 large clam per bowl.)
- Heat the soup again and skim off aku (any foam or impurities that rise to the surface).
- Season with sake, soy sauce, and salt, and bring to a boil. Stop the heat.
- Pour hot soup over clams.
- Garnish with boiled nanohana or mitsuba leaves if available.
*Makes 4 servings (Recipe from Japanese food at About.com)