Ichimatsu Dolls


Ichimatsu dolls – a traditional Japanese craft art

Ichimatsu dolls (市松人形) are traditional Japanese dolls that represent little boys and girls dressed in Kimono. They have glass eyes and flesh colored faces. Ichimatsu dolls are not only for display but also can be used for playing and often allow to change the kimono dress. ichimatsu dolls are popular presents since the represent traditional culture and clothing of Japan.

The history of Ichimatsu dolls

Ichimatsu dolls became known in the west in 1927 when 58 dolls were send from Japan to the US as “Ambassadors of Friendship”. These envoy dolls were 32″ tall and represented the craft of many doll making artists and manufacturers. Many dolls are in museums today but 15 dolls have unknown whereabouts.

Ichimatsu dolls were very popular as presents to foreigners and in the 1930s many were send to famous people such as Helen Keller or Shirley Temple. Due to this habit of offering dolls to foreigners Ichimatsu dolls also become known as “friendship dolls” in the West.

How to make Ichimatsu dolls

The size of Ichimatsu dolls ranges from 20cm to 80cm and most are around 40cm tall. The head and the body are made of wood but two different parts. Some dolls have joints that can be moved.

The kimono dress is made by hand and there are thousands of variations. No Ichimatsu dolls look the same and the kimonos are exchangeable.

The dolls often get damaged over time or when children play with them and there are doll doctors who repair damaged dolls.

Ichimatsu doll dressings

Ichimatsu dolls are dressed in Kimono that can be changed from time to time. The prices for these Kimono vary very much in terms of quality and level of detail of the dress. Here are a few examples of kimonos for Ichimatsu dolls:

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