Hakata dolls or Hakata Ningyo in Japanese are a traditional craft from the Hakata district of Fukuoka City
There are only 37 doll makers fully certified as traditional craftsmen, with works ranging from the traditional form to more modern designs.
What are Hakata dolls?
Looking around gift shops in Fukuoka, you will find a variety of Hakata Ningyo dolls, from cute little ones to magnificent pieces costing more than a car.
The dolls are made by hand by doll makers in the Hakata district and surrounding areas.
Hakata dolls are a traditional craft representative of Fukuoka Prefecture and produced by molding clay into the doll’s form, then baking it at high temperatures. Then they are painted using unique mineral pigments and other paints.
After painting, the dolls are not glazed and fired again like ceramic dolls. Therefore, unlike clay dolls which are fired at low temperatures, these dolls can be intricately and delicately sculpted, but they do not have the coldness of ceramic dolls.
People say that it’s the matt texture that Hakata dolls are painted with that gives them a simple warmth that quickly warms the heart of those who see them.
This is a big part of why Hakata dolls have endured over the ages and continue to be loved and collected by people even today.
History Of Hakata Ningyo Dolls
The history of Hakata dolls dates back to 1600, when Nagamasa Kuroda entered the Chikushi region of Japan, and it is commonly believed that the original Hakata dolls were made by artisans who were gathered from all over the area to produce scriveners.
Internation Exhibits Of Hakata Dolls
In 1900 when they were exhibited at a Paris Exhibition, they became the talk of the town in Europe and the United States.
In 1925, a Hakata doll by Yoichi Kojima won the Silver Prize at the Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts in Paris, and the name “Hakata Doll” became known throughout the world.
Hakata Dolls Statue In Fukuoka
Today, you can see a bronze statue of the “Three Maiko” if you visit Fukuoka. It is displayed on a bridge in Nakasu and modeled on the same Hakata doll that Yoichi Kojima exhibited in Paris.