A few months ago I visited a crafts fair in Odaiba and found these dolls by extremely talented sometime house wife, sometime doll maker Harumi Oshima (大島はるみ). The self introduction is her own, in reality she is successful and quite widely known artist with several medals in doll making to her name. Here’s a video in Japanese where she talks about herself and her art. I was attracted to her dolls because they sort of look like the kind of photos I like to take at festival, snapshots of people in doll form, not at all like regular dolls which are more open and unfocused. I also like that the artist herself is so wonderfully modest about her talent. She has made a book with photos of these dolls from the series called Matsuri (Festival), available at Amazon here. I have met quite a few doll makers in Japan and I am always amazed at their talent. I wish it would rub off on me! I’m sorry about the poor pictures, her exhibition area was really dark so I had to do with what little light I had.
One of my favorites from this year’s Design Festa was Mr Masato Homma and his very low-key no thrills exhibition of customized tin dolls, known as Buriki-ningyo here in Japan. Even as a kid I remember sometimes seeing photos of old tin toys that would move around if a spring in the back was wound up and came in all sizes and shapes. Cuesukeya, as he calls himself in the world of toy making, takes standard sized tin doll and customize them, for collectors and fans of old-style toys all over the world. Here’s four of his dolls in Japanese style but he’s got many others on his Flickr page, including Hulk Hogan! I love the details and the clean simplicity of these toys, they are almost works of art and would fit in well in any modern art gallery around the world I think. He’s got a Facebook page as well. If you ever visit Kyoto I also recommend the tin doll museum.