【Edo Tokyo Rethink】Koikko Matsuzaki Ningyo (posted material dolls): The Value Found Within Objects Without Purpose
Within the workshop is a showroom lined with dolls for the Girl’s Day Festival and Boy’s Day Festival, each with their own distinctive features.
Production of “kimekomi” (posted material) dolls and “Edo sekku” (festival) dolls are two traditional crafts practiced by Koikko Matsuzaki Ningyo. The entire process takes place within the workshop, starting from the “kashira” (head), which determines the overall atmosphere of the doll. Many people find themselves captivated by the dolls’ “expression”, born from the combination of all its elements, and come to visit the workshop as a result.
The company was founded in 1920. Its current president, the third generation Mitsumasa Matsuzaki, also goes by the pseudonym “Koikko”. Originally, he hadn’t planned to take over the family business. Having learned woodcarving at an art university, his work includes figures such as animals and bugs, as he strives to elevate his craft and create new and unique dolls.
“I don’t think there is anything that cannot be changed or must be protected when it comes to doll-craft. Even when creating traditional dolls, we don’t approach them casually. Instead, we carefully consider what expression would work for each doll while we work on them.”
Atsushi Miyazaki, the successor-in-waiting to Koikko, was the one who primarily met with clients at the workshop. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has found himself re-examining the values embodied by the dolls.
“Looking back on the joy in the faces of parents or grandparents who are deciding on a doll for a child or grandchild, I realized that there is considerable value not just in having the doll as a decoration, but in the very act of deciding the right doll.”
In the words of Koikko, “It is because the doll itself does not have value that we can find value within it.
“When people come in for maintenance and I ask ‘The face has become quite dirty, would you like us to replace it?’, many clients say ‘No, please leave it as it is’. As a doll spends time with a family and shares their feelings and wishes, it becomes a more precious part of their lives.”
Edo Tokyo Rethink will feature a collaboration between Koikko Matsuzaki Ningyo and contemporary artist Noritaka Tatehana. Their project will try to add color back to the hina dolls of the former Iwasaki House Garden. As no original dolls exist in the modern day, the only reference they have are monochrome photographs. How will these dolls which brought joy to the people of the Meiji Period look in the eyes of those in today’s Reiwa Period?
Photo by Satomi Yamauchi
*All necessary safety precautions were taken during the interview as part of COVID-19 prevention.
Online Exhibition Outline
Exhibition Title: Edo Tokyo Rethink -The Future of Traditional Industries Represented by Art in the Former Iwasaki House Garden-
Exhibition Period: March 24, 2022 (Thu) 14:00 – March 31, 2022 (Thu)
*The exhibition will be available for viewing as an archive at the same URL even after the online exhibition ends.
Organizer: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Edo-Tokyo Kirari Project
Co-organizer: Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association