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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
Jōshi
Formal name for the seasonal festival taking place on the third day of the third month; also called genshi and jōmi. This was one of five seasonal celebrations (gosekku) established as holidays by the Edo shogunate. This celebration is ordinarily called the hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) or the momo no sekku (Peach Holiday). In ancient times, the term jōshi referred to the first "day of the snake" in the third lunar month, and on that day, people in China would go out to waterside sites to drink alcohol, cleanse their impurities, and perform a ritual to call the soul of deceased family members back from "the other shore" so that they may be reborn in this world. Since long ago in Japan, as well, people would gather on this day at a bend in a river or stream for "bend in the water" parties at which they would drink sake, compose poetry, and float their cups or origami down the river, a tradition inherited from China. During the Heian period, a tradition known as jōshi no harai began primarily among the nobility in which, on jōshi, a family would summon a yin yang divination master to perform purification rites, pat their bodies with a doll, and then float that doll down the river. A similar custom of floating dolls down rivers known as nagashi hina still exists in many areas of Japan today. The practice of beautifully decorating the doll instead of throwing it in the river started in the Edo period, which transformed over time into the hinamatsuri tradition that has now become standard. Over time, the number of decorated dolls used in the celebration increased and a two-tiered display came into use between 1748 and 1751. A three-tiered display came into use between 1764 and 1772. These days, the hinamatsuri is specifically considered to be a girls' festival, and unfiltered sake and hishimochi (three stacked, diamond-shaped, rice-cakes colored green, white, and pink) are included in the display as offerings. This festival day occurs during the "low-tide gathering" season and as a result, people in some regions hold joyful celebrations in which they eat various shellfish such as turban shells and clams.

— Yumiyama Tatsuya
Hinanagashi. The ritual of floating a doll(hina) down a river.

Wakayama Prefecture

©Fujii Hiroaki

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