Kyugetsu Ningyo – Japanese Doll Exhibition
If, like so many other tourists in Tokyo, you are planning to visit Asakusa this Golden Week I recommend making a slight detour to the seventh floor of the Asakusa Tourist Information Center building to see the Kyugetsu Ningyo, or Japanese traditional doll exhibition that is currently on display there. There is no entrance fee and it is a great stop after having taking in the views of Asakusa from the 8th floor viewing balcony. The dolls are handmade by different members of a traditional doll making society and are all wonderfully exquisite. There’s a good mix of traditional types as well as modern versions and some avant-garde types. The dolls are of a type called Kimekominingyo (木目込人形). The doll bodies are carved in wood and clad in silk by a unique way of pushing the material into intricately carved folds in the wooden body base. The heads are often sculpted in clay and attached after all other parts have been made.
There are also several fantastic Oshie “paintings” (押絵), which is a kind of collage that is made by wrapping sculpted pieces of clay or thick paper in silk to create a pop-out 3D effect. It can be very beautiful when done correctly, as in the works of art exhibited here. There is a description with good photos here, it seems easy but I guess it really isn’t. It is the same technique as used in the traditional hagoita new year’s decorations. I wish I had time to learn more about this fascinating art form!