Jul 17th
Aug 29th

Gosho Ningyo - The Charm of Gleaming Skin

Dolls to celebrate and hope for the vitality of children

By Elizabeth S    - 1 min read
Venue: Omiya Bonsai Village When: Jul 17th - Aug 29th 2021

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.

More info

Find out more about Omiya Bonsai Village.

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Elizabeth S

Elizabeth S @elizabeth.scally

You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big city centers and tourist destinations. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too. 

Join the discussion

Lynda Hogan 3 months ago
I had really hoped to go to the opening of the new museum, but the pandemic happened! After I am vaccinated I hope to go. Just FYI - the venue is showing as Omiya Bonsai Village.
Elizabeth S Author 3 months ago
The only reason I could visit is because I work nearby.

Oops, I might correct that. Omiya Bonsai Village is in the same city, but a 20 minute ride away...
Kim 3 months ago
It's true, you really do smile when you look at them!
Elizabeth S Author 3 months ago
And that’s kind of how they originated, to bring vitality and happiness. And it works even today.