Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum, opened in 2020, exhibits Gosho Ningyo, a genre of child figures typified by chubby features, pale skin, and smiling faces. These dolls originated in the imperial court where the emperor gave them as gifts to court ladies in celebration of the new year, the summer festivals, and welcoming a new birth. Over time, the gosho ningyo came to represent wishes for good luck.
You can’t help but smile when you see their plump faces and animated bodies. The exhibit includes historical examples from the Edo to Showa eras and modern interpretations of gosho ningyo, including karakuri animated dolls.
The museum, housed in an austere, somewhat futuristic building has two halls. The first reveals the origins of Iwatsuki’s craftspeople, artisans who labored to produce the spectacular heritage at Nikko, and later settled to found the doll-making industry. The second has a rotating display of the thousands of dolls and accessories in the collection.
Iwatsuki Ningyo Museum is a 10-minute walk from the east exit of Iwatsuki Station on the Tobu Urban Park Line.