Koshigaya is the fifth largest city in Saitama prefecture, which is directly north of Tokyo.
The name, Koshigaya, is said to mean lowlands at the foot of a mountain. In fact, a large area of Koshigaya is a low flatland which is surrounded by hills.
During the Edo period in medieval Japan, Koshigaya prospered as one of 21 stops along the Nikko Kaido, a 140 km-long pilgrimage route from Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to Mt. Nikko (located in what is now Tochigi prefecture), a prominent sacred place in the Kanto region.
In Koshigaya, a number of historical houses, shops and warehouses from that era have been preserved, and some of them are now designated as national cultural properties.
Kakinuma Dolls – More Than 70 Years of History
In 1950, Kakinuma Dolls, a manufacturer of Edo kimekomi dolls, was established in Tokyo by the doll artist, Toko Kakinuma. The second Toko Kakinuma, who took his father’s name as an artist name, moved our workshop to the city of Koshigaya in Saitama.
Since then, the second Toko has preserved Edo kimekomi’s tradition while taking up new challenges and was awarded numerous prizes and accolades for his traditional yet groundbreaking works. He is now certified as a traditional craftsperson.
In 2016, one of the sons of the second Toko, Toshimitsu Kakinuma, who honed his skills from his father, created a series of lucky cat (maneki neko) kimekomi dolls, which was eventually selected as one of the 500 excellent regional products by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and was exhibited at overseas exhibitions such as Maison & Objet in Paris, France.
Long Process Completed by Lots of Artists
Kimekomi is a traditional doll making technique which was invented in the 1740s by a craftsperson in Kyoto. This technique was then introduced to Edo and evolved in its own unique way.
Narrow grooves are carved into the body of a doll. Then, the ends of the small cut-out fabric pieces are precisely tucked into these grooves to make up its clothing. This technique is called kimekomi.
We use molds to shape these bodies so that we can craft a variety of dolls in different shapes and sizes.
Doll-making-process involves a lot of skillful artists. We have 15 craftspeople at our workshop, but this number goes up to 50 if we count every artist in the entire process.
It is also time-consuming because there are so many steps, taking up almost a month to complete each individual doll.
New Products Based on the Experience
Traditionally, Edo kimekomi dolls have been displayed and enjoyed at seasonal Japanese festivals such as the Doll’s Festival in March.
We, Kakinuma Dolls, have been crafting those authentic decorative dolls but have also created the lucky cat and kimekomi tray series in the hopes that more and more people will have access to our quality products and appreciate Edo kimekomi dolls in their everyday lives.
We believe our dolls have the power to connect people. We will continue to work hard to reach out to more customers and spread the word “kimekomi” to the world.
2009: The 9th Chairman’s Award of Kanto Traditional Craftsman Association
2009: Director’s Award: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Kanto Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry
2010: Director’s Award: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Kanto Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry
2011: Minister’s Award (Fine Arts): The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
2011: The 11th Chairman’s Award of Kanto Traditional Craftsman Association