Top Stories about Art, Beauty, and Japanese Doll


Art and Beauty of Japanese Dolls
The Japan Foundation Travelling Exhibition
Organized by: The Japan Foundation
Supervised by: Hayashi Naoteru (Japanese doll culture research institute) & Mita Kakuyuki (Tokyo National Museum)
In Jakarta

06 - 24 July 2023
09:00 - 19:00 WIB

Galeri Nasional Indonesia

“Japanese doll as the prayer for children development, Japanese doll as the art and Japanese doll as the folk art.”

(Imperial couple)
Mochizuki Reikou

These are the main dolls used in the Hina Matsuri festival celebrated on March 31 to pray for the happiness of female children. Here. Dairi refers to the palace which the Emperor resides in. Accordingly, the Hina Ningyo (Girls' Festival dolls) representing the Emperor and Empress are called Dairi-bina. Dairi-bina generally depict the Emperor and Empress of the Edo period (1603-1868), while the clothing worn by the dolls shown here is designed after that worn by the current Emperor and Empress during palace rite in 2019.

(Three female servants)

These dolls represent close female servants to the Emperor and Empress from the Edo period (1603-1868). The implements held by each are items used in ceremonies such as weddings.
The one in the middle holds the Shimadai, a platform on which sake cups are placed. On the right is the Nagae no Choushi, implement used to pour the sake into the cups, while on the left is the Kuwae no Choushi, a container used to pour more sake into the Nagae no Choushi when it runs out.

Noh Ningyo: Takasago
Kiyomura Yoshihide

These dolls represent a grandfather and grandmother as the lead characters from a traditional Japanese No play called Takasago, They are often offered as gifts when babies are born to share their good fortune so that they are healthy and long lived.

Kabuki Ningyo: Renjishi
(Two lions)
Kiyomura Yoshihide

These are dolls representing characters from a traditional Japanese Kabuki theater. These dolls represent parent and child lions in human form.
The white-haired doll is the parent, and the red is the child. In the East, the lion is seen as the king of animals and believed to have the ability to vanquish evil, so the dolls are often offered as gifts to pray for the happiness of a newborn baby, and that they do not become sick or injured.

Musha Ningyo: Taisho
(Armored warrior)
Matsuzaki Koikko

This doll is displayed for the celebration of Tango no Sekku, or Children's Day, on May 5th to pray for the happiness of male children. Among the armor-wearing Musha or Samurai, Taisho symbolizes those who are strong and wise. It is often offered as a gift to pray for male children to grow up distinguished and in good health. Japanese armor emphasized aesthetic beauty in addition to practical protection, and thus represent the intersection of traditional arts and craftsmanship.

Matsuzaki Koikko

Momotaro is a hero from a Japanese folktale that describes how he was born from a peach, and grew up to travel to the island of the ogres, accompanied by a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant, to take back the treasures the ogres had stolen. In his left hand, Momotaro holds a bag of sweets called kibi dango that he gave to the dog, monkey, and pheasant to get along with.

Gosho Ningyo: Treasure ship
Gosho Ningyo: Crane
Nakamura Shinkyo

The term Gosho refers to the Japanese imperial court. These dolls were loved by the members there from the Edo period (1603-1868), and were offered as gifts for a variety of celebratory occasions. They depict plump and healthy babies with smooth white skin, representing beauty, purity and honor. They are holding a treasure ship that brings good fortune, or crane that signifies long life, in their hands, with auspicious images of treasures on their waistcoats.

Saga Ningyo: Enmei fuku no Kami
(God of happiness and longevity)
Nakamura Shinkyo

Saga Ningys are notable for the gold leaf and paint applied in minute detail to their clothing, making them one of the most luxurious among Japanese dolls from the do period (1603-1868). This doll represents a deity who brings good fortune, who holds a bag in their left hand from which any treasure can be brought forth.

Keshi Ningyo: Dairi-bina

Keshi Ningyo: Butterfly dance
Yamada Yuji

The term Keshi means something very tiny like a poppy seed. These tiny and delicate dolls became popular during the do period (1603.
1868) in reaction to an edict by the Tokugawa Shogunate that it was overly extravagant for common people to own large dolls. These dolls are a miniature version of the Dairi-bina displayed for the Hina Matsuri festival celebrated on March 3rd, and of a traditional dance of the imperial court that represents the form of a beautiful butterfly.

Shizuoka Anesama
Nakadaira Ikuno
Made in: Shizuoka city, Shizuoka
Material: Paper

Shizuoka Anesama depict women’s appearances wearing traditional Japanese dress and hair tied in the traditional manner. They are notable for their simple designs featuring the white of the washi paper as an accent, without drawing a face or coloring the hair black. Japanese girls played with dolls such as these until about 100 years ago.

Hakata Ningyo: Miyabi (Elegance)
Tanaka Isamu
Made in: Fukuoka city, Fukuoka
Material: Clay

This work depicts a Japanese woman in traditional dress putting on an overcoat to ward off the early spring chill. The pattern of the clothing represents the season by depicting plumb blossoms that bloom in early spring. A beautiful woman is a very popular motif of Hakata Ningyo.

Matsumoto Oshie: Oniwakamaru
Matsumoto Oshie: Oiran and Kamuro
Mimuta Takahiro

These dolls have been made in Matsumoto city, Nagano prefecture, since roughly 200 years ago. Oshie is a method to cut a thick paper along a design, wrap each part in fabric, and combine the parts. The work with a giant fish depicts Oniwakamaru, a boy with superhuman strength from roughly 850 years ago. The other work depicts a top rank courtesan and her understudy. It is instilled with a wish for male and female children to grow up to be healthy and intelligent.

Oshie Hagoita: Danshichi
Oshie Hagoita: Oshichi
Kyogoku Kinzan

For this type, Oshie doll is attached to a paddle, Hagoita, used in a traditional pastime like badminton. Displaying it is believed to dispel misfortune. The one with a man represents a Kabuki play scene in which Danshichi, a gambler with tattoo, kills his greedy father-in-law at the summer festival. The other depicts the female Kabuki character who sets a fire, out of desperation to see her lover again whom she
met on the day of a great fire.

Yuki no Asa (A Snowy Morning)
Haruki Tadao

This work was made by forming the shape from a mix of powdered paulownia wood and starch to be molded, then covering it with layers of whitewash made from shells, and finally using washi paper, a special product of Japan, for the clothing. The work depicts a woman chafing her hands in the brisk air of a snowy morning.

TOMY Company, Ltd.
(Left) 1967
(Right) 2003

This is a dress-up doll made of soft plastic. It was first released by a Japanese toy maker in 1967, and remains popular today, though the body shape and expression has changed slightly over the years to keep up with the fashion of the times, which can be seen by comparing the old and new examples shown here. Recently, Japanese girls are playing with Licca-chan in the same way as girls did in the Edo period (1603-1868) with Ichimatsu Ningyo.

Let the pure rain fall
Igeta Hiroko


This is a work of formed and baked clay. This work seems to represent the determination and strength of wishing to be like a big cloud, a cloud that drop pure rain on the land.

Taki Yasuko

This work involves the application of leather onto the surface to recreate the texture of human skin. The same materials and methods used to make actual clothes and accessories worn by people are used, condensed into minimal form for the work. The work beautifully captures a common moment from everyday life, rather than a special scene from a special day.

Takasaki Daruma
Minegishi Kimitsugu
Made in: Takasaki city, Gunma 
Material: Paper

Daruma depicts Dodhidharma, or Daruma Daishi in Japanese, the founder of the Zen Buddhism. It is said to bring happiness and grant wishes. The reason that the eyes are not painted on is because traditionally, one eye is drawn on when making a wish, and the second is only drawn when that wish comes true. The eyebrows and facial hair are designed after the crane and tortoise respectively, as both represent longevity.

Which one is your favorite dolls in this time exhibition?

Comments below and tell me your impression.


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