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As one of the or five principal feast days among Japan's farmers, the Doll Festival was important in the purifying rites associated with planting and harvesting.In China, it had a decidedly masculine quality, being celebrated with games of kick-ball, sparrow shooting, cockfights, heavy drinking and music.They were worn as amulets to protect children wherever they went, placed by their bedsides to divert evil from the sleeping infants and promote future fertility.Temple records hold that in the 26th year of Suinin Ten'no's reign (3 BC) at the shrine dedicated to the at Ise, a grass doll was blessed by the shrine priestess and thrown into the river Isuzu to purge all human sins.At Shibuya, Tokyo, a live version of the doll display is set up using schoolchildren dressed in elaborate costumes.
In later centuries tradition also holds that Ise Shrine sold male and female doll pairs that could be dressed and were meant for display throughout the year, presumably guarding the home.
In Japan, this continued in the or cock fighting in early March celebrations.
As the festival evolved, it was the feminine side that was most visibly celebrated.
Based on the lunar calendar, this day often fell well into April by Western reckoning.
It was a time of planting and focus on the earth and man's fertility.