At the Festival, we highlight two types of Japanese doll making – Washi Ningyo (Japanese paper dolls) and Mataro dolls.

Washi Ningyo (Japanese Paper Dolls)

Handmade Washi Ningyo depicting the Hina Matsuri celebration

Favored by girls in Japan since the early 1500’s, Washi Ningyo (Japanese Paper Dolls) originated from a paper doll called ‘Anesama Ningyo’ (or flat dolls). These dolls were made with special Japanese Washi paper and cotton.  It can take about two to three hours to make a simple piece. Many of these intricate dolls are designed by the students and teachers, who were inspired by Japanese traditions and cultures, as shown in Ukiyoe (wood block prints), Theater arts in Noh, Kabuki, Bunraku, etc. (including photos, paintings and/or drawings.)

Washi Ningyo has been exhibited at the SF Cherry Blossom Festival for over 30 years. In celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival, a washi doll version of the very colorful and joyous parade was created.  Every year, the Washi Ningyo group displays their beautiful exhibit at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC or the Center).

Classes are taught by instructors Rochelle Lum and Yurie Nakamura at the JCCCNC located at 1840 Sutter Street San Francisco, CA.

Mataro Kimekomi Dolls

Mataro Dolls scene of activities of a Cherry Blossom Festival

The Mataro Doll is a type of Kimekomi Ningyo (wooden dolls dressed in kimono).  These dolls were a product of the Edo period and have a history of over 300 years.  Originally, the body of the kimekomi doll was made of wood with grooves carved into it.  The edges of carefully cut pieces of cloth were inserted into grooves and held in place with rice glue.  This method of dressing the doll is traditionally called ‘Kimekomi.’  Today, the doll bodies are not carved out of wood.  Mataro Kanabayashi I (1897 – 1984), founder of the Mataro Doll Academy, developed a unique method of molding the base form of a doll from paulownia (Japanese Kiri-no-ki) sawdust and glue, naming his creation the “Mataro Doll.”  Mataro I changed his subject matter from the past abstract ones to realistic ones.  He also believed that the most elegant era in Japan’s history was none other than HEIAN period and endeavored to create kimekomi dolls to represent “the world of elegant beauty of that era”.

The Mataro Doll Exhibit will be held on the second weekend at the Union Bank’s Community Room (across from the Daiso store) in Japantown.  San Francisco-East Bay Miyabikai members will be available to answer any questions regarding the exhibit, and Kimekomi Dolls.  The exhibit will include doll display, doll making demonstration, and sale of craft items made by San Francisco-East Bay Miyabikai members.