The Japanese and Japanese dolls have a lot of history. Read on to find out the types of traditional Japanese dolls and the meaning behind them.
Japan is a country teeming with culture in every nook and corner. Japanese traditions are deeply rooted, and we can see specks of it even today. Prospering in its culture and traditions, Japan has become a world-renowned figure for many of its food, culture, and more. One deeply-rooted element in Japanese culture is their Japanese dolls.
I am fascinated by Japan – its culture, traditions, places, people, and food make me hooked to it. The different types of traditional Japanese dolls with different connotations attached to them charmed me. I wanted to learn everything about it and see if I could get my hands on at least some of them. Now, the stories behind all the traditional dolls are interesting.
The history of different types of Japanese dolls is one that attracts a lot of fascination. They have been around for centuries to adorn houses and to use them in rituals. There is a festival, known as Hina Nagashi, dedicated to these dolls.
Japanese dolls, known as ningyo or human form in Japan, come in all shapes and sizes. There are several meanings attached that go back to the Japanese culture.
Some dolls represent historical figures, while some represent an ideology. It is a fascinating and knowledgeable journey. I am here to take you through this intriguing journey into the world of traditional Japanese dolls. Let me know which one caught your attention at once.
Antique Japanese Dolls
#1 — Japanese Doll – Kokeshi Dolls
Kokeshi dolls originate from north-eastern Japan and are simple, yet beautiful. The beauty, durability, and shape of Kokeshi dolls make them the perfect choice for souvenirs.
The Kokeshi dolls are handmade and painted in the colors of black and red. They are known for their minimalistic aesthetics, and occasionally sport other colors such as yellow, blue, and green.
Some of the Kokeshi dolls have hair painted on them, whereas some use a separate wood for the hair. All Kokeshi dolls are limbless, which unites them.
#2 — Japanese Daruma Doll
Out of all the traditional dolls of Japan, Daruma is the most well-known one. These dolls are said to be good luck charms, bought especially during the New Year. Daruma dolls showcase likeness to Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism.
The dolls look strange when we look at it for the first time. The strangeness in Daruma dolls is because they do not have pupils.
What Do Daruma Dolls Represent?
The dolls remind us about the importance of perseverance. According to Japanese traditions, you need to set a goal when you buy the Daruma doll. Once you have a goal (like a New Year’s resolution), you need to color one of the pupils. You can fill out the other eye when you have achieved your goal.
#3 — Gosho Doll
Gosho dolls look unique and are known as Gosho ningyo in Japan. The Gosho dolls have a distinctive look, and their history goes back to almost 400 years.
The dolls are recreations of children in play and are said to bring good luck. Historically, when Japanese feudal lords (known as daimo) visited Kyoto, Gosho dolls were presented to them.
You will find Gosho dolls posing with different objects. There are different meanings attached to them.
#4 — Ichimatsu Dolls
The Ichimatsu Dolls originally represented a popular 18th-century kabuki actor. The name of these dolls come after this actor. However, at one point, the term Ichimatsu was associated with realistic-looking dolls of children and babies. Often, you will find Ichimatsu dolls with glass eyes and a solemn expression.
#5 – Japanese Geisha Dolls
Geisha, in Japan, means a person of art. A Geisha doll represents the women who provide entertainment to men in public places. You will find Geisha dolls adorning beautiful kimono, with an instrument in hand. The Geisha dolls have an exaggerated elegant leaning-back pose.
#6 — Hina Dolls
Hima dolls are significant for the Hinamatsuri festival, which is also known as the Doll Festival. The festival takes place every year on March 3 and celebrates the girls of the nation and their bright future. The ornamental Hina dolls used during the festival represent the Emperor, Empress, and other royal representatives.
A full set of Hina dolls consists of no less than 15 figurines. On the other hand, a basic set only contains a pair of male and female.
#7 — Kintaro Dolls
Kintaro Dolls are popular among children. Children get these dolls during one of Japan’s holidays called the Tango no Sekku holiday. The dolls represent the legendary Kintaro child and offer inspiration to children. It motivates children to exhibit bravery and strength.
#8 — Musha Dolls
Musha Dolls are also known as warrior dolls. These dolls are the favorites of boys. However, making these dolls is a complex process; unlike other dolls, they have to be seated on camp chairs or horses. As the name suggests, they come carrying weapons, armor, and shield, just like the warriors.
#9 — Kimekomi Dolls
Kimekomi refers to the clothes worn by the doll. You will find these dolls in gift shops and craft stores around Japan, but now, there are a few online e-commerce sites are selling them.
The Kimekomi dolls come dressed in a classic Japanese style clothing. The 18th-century technique of making these Kimekomi dolls consist of cutting patterns into hard foam or softwood. The artisan tucks the cuts with layers of fabric.
These were some of the most popular types of traditional Japanese dolls that you can easily find on Amazon. Get them to decorate your house or to gift them to a loved one. These dolls will amplify the beauty and aesthetics of your home.
Apart from these, many other types of traditional Japanese dolls are exquisite and remarkable, both for their craftsmanship and meaning attached to it. Here are two of my favorites:
#10 — Kyoto Doll
The classic Kyoto Dolls are masterpieces crafted by skilled artisans. They play a decorative and sophisticated role in Japanese society.
Often, each of the parts of the doll is handcrafted separately by a separate expert. While one artisan does the hands and limbs, another does the hair. The clothes are taken care of by a textile expert.
Since so many artisans are involved in crafting the Kyoto doll, it is expensive. However, it is long-lasting and often becomes part of the family heirloom.
#11 — Teru Teru Bozu
While this may not be a doll in the typical sense, it still forms an essential part of the traditional Japanese doll culture. Children make these either using white paper or white cloth. The dolls (puppets) are said to bring good charm that brings good weather. They are hung upside down to bring rain. Imagine being able to change the weather as per the mood!
Dolls in today’s Japan
Today, not all types are made and enjoyed by the youth, as they once used to be. The tastes and preferences of the younger generations have changed. In today’s time, the Japanese prefer dolls that are figurines. They are willing to pay a high price for it if they have to. Despite not all types coming to the market like they used to, Japan’s doll culture has developed over the years.
You will also find limited edition figurines in the Japanese market for which people bid. Currently, most of them depict anime characters, which are not only popular in Japan, but all over the world. The figurines have special features such as costumes, expressions, and poses.
Many people travel to Japan solely to acquire limited edition figurines. This popularity all over the world shows how flourishing the Japanese doll culture is. The culture has not only developed but has also expanded.
The Japanese dolls are an exquisite and pristine form of art that holds deep meanings and is rooted in the traditions of Japan.
Get the Japanese dolls home today!
These dolls are beautiful, give aesthetic pleasure, and hold a meaning so deep, you will be awestruck. In this article, I listed some of my favorites from the world of traditional Japanese dolls. From the goal-achieving Daruma doll to the exquisitely beautiful Geisha doll, the collection is stunning.
The dolls are a big part of Japanese culture. Now that you know the beauty, simplicity, and deep meaning behind these creations, why not bring one home today?
These dolls will not just adorn the aesthetics of your home, but will also give your decoration a whole new meaning to it. Imagine explaining your guest the deep meaning and purpose behind the Geisha doll or the Daruma doll. They will be fascinated by the story, and your decor will have a whole new meaning to them as well.
Without further ado, get any of these dolls home today. Let me know if you already own one of these dolls, or wish to own one soon.