Today the Japanese are celebrating the annual Japanese Doll Festival, a tradition during which families -- especially those with young daughters -- pray for the happiness and healthy growth of girls. Google Japan too is likewise celebrating, with having posted a special Doodle.
The Japanese Doll Festival (??? Hina-matsuri?), or Girls' Day, is held on March 3. Platforms covered with a red carpet are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (??? hina-ningy??) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.
The custom of displaying dolls began during the Heian period. Formerly, people believed the dolls possessed the power to contain bad spirits. Hinamatsuri traces its origins to an ancient Japanese custom called hina-nagashi (????, lit. "doll floating"), in which straw hina dolls are set afloat on a boat and sent down a river to the sea, supposedly taking troubles or bad spirits with them. The Shimogamo Shrine (part of the Kamo Shrine complex in Kyoto) celebrates the Nagashibina by floating these dolls between the Takano and Kamo Rivers to pray for the safety of children. People have stopped doing this now because of fishermen catching the dolls in their nets. They now send them out to sea, and when the spectators are gone they take the boats out of the water and bring them back to the temple and burn them.
The customary drink for the festival is shirozake, a sake made from fermented rice. A colored hina-arare, bite-sized crackers flavored with sugar or soy sauce depending on the region, and hishimochi, a diamond-shaped colored rice cake, are served, Wikipedia.