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A fascinating place specializing in traditional dolls

Hi! My name is Louise, and I come from New Zealand. One Friday afternoon, I spent some time at Nakashima Menya, a fascinating place specializing in traditional dolls. I had the opportunity to decorate a Hachiman-Okiagari doll, one of the oldest locally-made toys in the northern part of Japan. These dolls are made from delicate Japanese papers, using a method similar to paper-mache.

By Louise Schouten
Published: March 30, 2011

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When I arrived at the store my little doll was waiting for me, no expression yet painted on her white face, and lacking the colorful patterns I saw on the other dolls in the shop. ATX_2619_600.jpg[ A sample doll ]The paints were laid out for me and I set to work, starting with the tiny facial details (no easy task for my nervous hands!), then creating a pattern on the doll’s body using a tiny brush and acrylic paints.
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ATX_2647_600.psdI tried to create a balanced design evoking thoughts of nature and good health, as I was told that Hachiman-okiagari dolls are often given to newborn babies to wish them good health and happiness. ATX_2621.jpg[Before painting ]In particular, they are given as New Year’s gifts and to congratulate recovery from illness or misfortune.

Painting my doll was a really unique experience, and I enjoyed the atmosphere of peaceful concentration I felt at Nakashima Menya. ATX_2667_600.jpg[ After painting ]It was really satisfying to not have a particular plan in mind while creating my design, but instead just letting the pattern emerge as I went along. It may not be perfect, but my little doll will always be special to me!

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Nakashima-Menya / 2-2-18, Owari-Cho, Kanazawa Map

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