Kimekomu is the Japanese verb meaning “tucking in” and ningyo means “doll.”
Said to be originated in Kyoto, it takes immense precision to make one. Mataro Ningyo in Ueno is where you can make these or even buy DIY kits to take back home with you. This has been recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as a “Traditional Craft.” Craft workshops are quite popular in Japan especially during holiday season.
The origin of Kimekomi dolls dates back to the middle of the Edo period (1736 to 1741) in Kyoto, when a priest of the Kamigamo Shrine, Tadashige Takahashi, used scraps of willow left over from the woven boxes of shrine festivals, made dolls and dressed them with fabric remnants from the priests’ robes.
A mold using paulownia sawdust is created as the base with grooves. Fabric cut into appropriate shapes is then tucked into these till the entire mold is covered with colorful cloth.
The best thing you find when making these dolls are all the cute, miniature accessories. How adorable does this hair style look?
We made a basic doll that cost about 4000 yen and took 2 hours from start to finish.
There are various crafts that use this technique but making dolls remains the most popular. During Hina Matsuri (Doll’s Festival or Girl’s Day), you will see a several-stepped platform covered in red to display a set of ornamental dolls. Some of these are made using this technique.
At Mataro Ningyo in Ueno, Tokyo, you can not only make your own dolls but also buy DIY kits of your choice.
Buying kits and making dolls for grandchildren is a popular activity among grandparents.
The most popular one is the Shori Kabuto (勝利兜) or victory helmet worn by Japanese warriors especially by the samurai.
Followed by a boy with his koinobori (carp streamers) that flutter in the air before children’s day.
The prince from Wanpaku Ōji no Orochi Taiji (わんぱく王子の大蛇退治), a Japanese traditional animation fantasy adventure
Taisho Kazari (大将飾り), the image of an admiral and his weapons.
Some of the smaller DIY kits like making owls cost just 450 yen!!
Wouldn’t it make a wonderful present for someone?
Address: 5-15-13 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan
You can even order DIY kits or ready-made dolls internationally.
English website: https://www.mataro-doll.com/en/con_rekishi.php