JAPAN TRADITIONAL CRAFT AOYAMA SQUARE
Tokyo > Tokyo Others
In the middle of the Edo era (1600-1868), a priest named Takahashi Tadashige is said to have fashioned a small wooden doll from scraps of willow left over from boxes used at a festival at Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto. Using remnants of fabric from his robe, he dressed the doll by inserting the ends of the fabric into the wooden torso.
Originally named Kamigamo dolls after the place they were first made, they were later called kimekomi dolls because of the way the fabric was inserted into slits in the wood, and the name stuck. Subsequently, the craft was established in Edo (Tokyo), where they are still made today.
Edo kimekomi dolls are made in a mold, using a mixture of paulownia sawdust and a wheat-starch glue. After hardening, grooves are chiseled into the torso and the unfinished ends of the fabric are inserted to dress the dolls. A number of highly appealing dolls are produced today, including representations of well-known Kabuki characters and traditional figures as well as dolls for the Doll Festival (Hina Masturi) in March and Children's Day in May.