I feel that the best things of any age remain as traditional crafts
The CEO of Hanashyo, an Edo kiriko (hand-cut glass) works...
Japan’s Sekku (Seasonal Festivals) culture has developed and become ingrained because of the stark contrasts between the four seasons. Since a long time ago, it has been a popular tradition for Japanese people to decorate their homes with “Princess Dolls (Hina-ningyo)” during Momo no Sekku (Peach Festival) and “Warrior Dolls(Gogatsu-ningyo)” during Tango no Sekku (or Children’s Festival). Matsuzaki Doll, founded in 1921, is a venerable brand that makes the dolls for these traditional festivals. As the 3rd generation owner, Mitsumasa Matsuzaki is currently operating the business under the brand name “Koikko” and uses traditional craftsmanship to make various types of dolls.
The dolls for these traditional festivals generally fall under one of two categories called “Edo kimekomi dolls” and “Edo Ishogi dolls”; Matsuzaki Doll is one of the few workshops in the industry that makes both types. “Edo kimekomi dolls” are made by filling a mold with a clay made by kneading paulownia sawdust, then cutting grooves into the hardened body and tightly tucking in the ends of cloth into the grooves. For “Edo Ishogi dolls”, the heads are made in the same way with a mold and attached to a straw body that is dressed in sewn clothing. Both are designated as traditional crafts and artisans in their 20s to 70s perfect their workmanship daily at the workshop.
Normally, separate workshops will produce the head and body but the Matsuzaki Doll workshop is one of the rare gems that make them from head to toe.
Matsuzaki says, “Ultimately, the face is what really makes the dolls come to life. Making our own original head parts help us create faces that are full of character. We will continue to leverage our comprehensive workmanship in efforts to promote new ways in which to celebrate the Sekku and fit it into modern lifestyle.” Under his leadership, they have been churning out innovative products such as the adorable-looking Warrior Doll in collaboration with a popular illustrator, a folding screen with an urbane pattern using the traditional craft “Edo Karakami”, and standing Princess Dolls (instead of the classic seated Princess Doll) that can be decorated in narrow spaces.
They are also actively exploring business fields other than dolls for the Sekku festivals. The “Kotowaza (Idioms) Samurai” series that portrays Japanese idioms using its whole body adorably fits on the palm of your hand. The “anima” series that uses the Kimekomi technique is a piece of art that uses very special materials. Regardless of the age and time, the joy of decorating and admiring dolls remain unchanged.